Owen takes centre stage before walking media tightrope

By Lee Ryder on Aug 14, 07 08:32 AM


Michael Owen

It would have caused a public outcry on the streets of Tyneside had he chosen to activate the much maligned release clause in his contract but in the end Michael Owen decided to stay - now he might find himself on the bench against Aston Villa.

Owen body swerved everything that Newcastle Blue Star threw at him and then took part in a bit of suburban swerving to avoid the colourful cast of the national media circus at Kingston Park after playing an hour against the Unibond League side.

Owen wanted to avoid talk of England - with Wayne Rooney's foot injury thrusting him into the limelight again - and concentrate on Newcastle United.

But surely that has to be heartwarming news for the Geordie public who endured plenty of nervous energy during a summer of speculation surronding Owen's future.

Newcastle will go into the Villa game on a high and set to play an attacking 4-3-3 formation - which worked a treat against Bolton.

Yet who will Allardyce drop to bring in Owen?

One school of thought is you start with the best team available if everybody is fit, another is don't change a winning line-up or you can be down with the kids and do the squad rotation thing that helped win Chelsea a couple of titles.

James Milner pushed up and done very well against Bolton to join hitman Viduka and Oba Martins, with the formation basically winning the game after a half-time 3-0 cushion paved the way for victory.

Whether Milner will be the man to make way for Owen in a front three of Viduka, Martins and the England star remains to be seen - but to have three gems in attack has to be considered a luxury and perhaps rekindles a little bit of the excitement from the Keegan era - y'kna the "how many are we going to score today lads?" routine.

Milner worked his socks off at Bolton but from an attacking point of view and it would be harsh if he was the man to miss out but Newcastle finally have options.

Alan Smith had to simply get on with the job of midfield general at the Reebok but worked very well alongside Nicky Butt and skipper Geremi and there won't be too many complaints if that continues.

Allardyce also has decisions to make in his back four with Cacapa emerging from last night's run out at Blue Star's Kingston Park, looking good and Jose Enrique also nearing selection for the first time, with Charles N' Zogbia, Steven Taylor and David Rozenhal all waiting patiently to see Saturday night's team.

*What team would you pick against Villa?


john gilroy said:

Keep the same attacking players as played at Bolton.

I know owen won't like it but he can start on the bench and come on if necessary

Alasdair McGregor said:

I agree, owen to wait his turn - i think sam (strong character thank god) will make him wait by putting him on the bench and then he will come on from there and score.

I think it should be a couple more weeks yet before those other lads get in the team too as they need to adjust and that seems to take roughly a year for most foreigners, so bring them in gently.

DGB said:

Leave Owen on the bench with ameobi, capaca, solano and ramage (maybe no GK back-up?).
weak link in the starting 11 is Carr, could move Owen, Millner in Midfield and drop Geremi to RB ?.

Doug said:

Owen should have to earn his place in the team just like everyone else. Team v Villa
Carr Ros Taylor Zog
Milner Butt Geremi Smith
Martins Vid

Blacky said:

My team for villa would be

When fit Given,Enrique,Barton to come in at the expense of Harper,Nzogbia,Milner or Owen depending on form or injuries.

Mike said:

I like the idea of putting Geremi at RB but changing that team is a difficult decision.

SAM is up to it, he set the standard on Saturday let us see what he does without pressure against Villa

Genghiz said:

If you say that the formation will be a 4-3-3.

Owen Oba Viduka
Milner Geremi Butt
Cacapa Rozenhal Taylor Carr

Defense is not in any particular order. Altough a 1-3-3-3 would be better with Taylor or Cacapa as the 1.

Ted Simons said:

As long as he's here, I'd still have Nobby at right back well ahead of Carr.

Paul Taylor said:

Go for the throat! Attack! Attack! Attack!

Geremi Taylor Rozehnal
Milner Smith Butt N'Zogbia
Martins Viduka Owen

Markus said:

I think BSA will go for a 4-4-2 with the same players as at Bolton. Im extremely worried about Carrs pace being able to cope with Young who gave the Liverpool defence a torrid time on Sunday. Carew was also impressive (to me) fast and big. This match is not going to be easy.

Tony said:

Let me start by saying Carr???

He had his best game on saturday and he was still rubbish.

you have to drop geremi into right back, milner into midfield and then either shola or owen upfront with the one who loses out on the bench.

Blacky your spot on, just realised my yeam would be the same as yours.

to add another point I hope that Steve Carrs mother comes to toon and locks him in the house for embarresing the family while hes been playing football.
Geremi Taylor Rozenthal Zog
Milner Butt Smith
Martins Viduka owen/shola

oxboy said:

I'd reward last weeks side with a start.
What if Owen is fit, will he be fit in two weeks time?
Owen should bench warm until those who are playing fail to produce.

Adrian S/Leone said:

I also think OWEN should wait on the bench for us not to breed dissatisfaction among the players. If owen should come in Carr should wait and Geremei switch to right-back then have Milner, Smith, Butt in midfield and then we have Owen Viduka and Martins upfront

Duncan said:

"Whether Milner will be the man to make way for Owen in a front three of Viduka, Martins and the England star remains to be seen"

England Star!!!! Come on Lee, it's bad enough the national press refering to him as "Englands Michael Owen", don't you start as well!

The Bez said:

As a geordie living in Scotland, I try to come doon and take in as many toon games in as possible. The whole Steven Carr thing frustrates the hell out of me. Even the daft jocks i work with can't understand how he ever played for such a big club as newcastle. He wouldn't even get into Gretna's reserves.

Like most of you i can't remember the last time i was so excited about a new season and confident in the manager. As far as Michael Owen is concerned, he is professionalenough to understand he needs to earn his place, as the other lads played so well against a poor Bolton.
(And i don't think Big Sam will mind at all putting him on the bench).

See you at the Gallogate on Saturday! Howay the lads!

Steve K said:

Why rush Owen back for a full match yet? Surely the best thing for us and England would be to stick him on the bench and give him a half hour run-out when our attackers (and their defenders) are starting to tire. I would drop Carr however, as basically he isn't up to it.


Geremi Rozenhall Taylor Enrique

Butt Smith N'Zogbia

Martins Viduka Milner

Toonatik said:

Milner has to be one of the first on the teamsheet! The Kid gives his all. If we started with viduka owen and martins who is going to supply them?? Think we seen a prime example with spurs the other night against everton, great names up front who can all score hatfulls but they wernt getting the service they need. Owen to start on bench and prove he wants to play for the stripes and not just use the games as warmups for England. Keep Geremi in midfield alongside Butt to mop up all before them


Owen doesn't deserve to walk into the first team, he showed no commitment during the summer until he realised the top 4 weren't going to but him. Milner and Martins were excellent at Bolton, I think Sam will stick with them.

Dave the Rave said:

Typical of MO to expect to play for the Toon just before the upcoming England internationals. Dont be surprised if he comes back injured again though.

Blacky said:

Anyone else a little worried about our lack of cover in midfield especially with imminent departures of Nobby and Dyer ? I feel we are very thin on the ground

Dan said:

Everyone seems determined to see Geremi at RB - think he should stop in midfield personally. Carr's a weak link but let him get on with it for now.

Even without Dyer and Nobby I think we're fairly well off in mf - perhaps another right-sided player would help but don't forget there's Barton, Duff and Emre to come. In addition to Geremi, Butt, Milner, Zog and Smith I don't think this is an area we need to worry about too much.

As for the original question - Owen definitely on the bench, where he should be til there's a reason to choose him ahead of Martins.

Sam said:

Well if BS prefer 4-3-3, we will be a little exposed at the wings especially at counter attack. Then our fullbacks need to be at their best here. Unfortunately carr is not fast enough and a bit clumsy too. n'zogbia is not a natural defender either. geremi and enrique will be preferable at the flanks.

Tad Strauser said:

Hopefully, Nobby will be persuaded to stay. I quite happily would've paid the postage on Dyer myself.

jackie w said:

Heres one for you Lee, Spoke to a guy last night in a boozer in London and his mate is a sports reporter from the star and apparently has been told to get ready for a major signing by Newcastle either Friday or Monday . Typical cockney so has all the chat and was probably talking crap but the same bloke told me about the Dyer transfer collapse and the cicumstances before it hit the papers,,,You Heard owt Lee ?,,,Jackie

Mike Gadd said:

It was nice to see some refreshing honesty by Geremi as to how Newcastles "last major honour" is really perceived by the club.
We haven't won a MAJOR TROPHY FOR OVER 50 YEARS says Ron Geremi. All of Teesside has been telling you that the Inter city thing you won was only the equivalent to the Anglo Scottish, Texaco Cup thing and that it does not count as a major trophy. Maybe its for the best that you leave all of the Major trophy winning to the Boro, after all we are well experienced at it.

jackie w said:

How many times you won the league Mike ? It tickles me that a little club from yorkshire feels the need to compare itself against us??? Probably because all the other teams from yorkshire are now in lower divisions and you have no one to brag to. Make the most of it as i dont like to say it but you are the biggest team in yorkshire now get off wor blog and start bothering the Leeds or someone.Oh and by the way Viduka is the nuts , cheers easy ...Jackie

Frank said:

Wait until Martins has scored his hat trick and then let Owen on :-], no way should he start ahead of anyone. I'm tired of the media going on about England's Michael Owen. Toon comes first every time.

But whst a great problem for Big Sam to have?! A few weeks ago we thought they were both away.

Anonymous said:

4 0 to the toon stick a few bob on forth spot

jamesie said:

carr? what a pile...... i'd play with 10 men before playing him!


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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