Monday, April 16, 2007

Every silver lining has a cloud

I've probably used that title for a post before, but then when it comes to Newcastle Utd it's pretty much a constant state of affairs...

As our season peters out in a succession of hopelessly gutless and endeavour-free displays (the win at Bramall Lane aside), it's been a small crumb of comfort to know that Michael Owen is on the comeback trail and could well make his first appearances of 2006/7 in our last few remaining games. But even that reason to be cheerful has been tempered by the claim in yesterday's News Of The World that Taggart is intent on poaching our pint-sized crockpot as soon as he's fully fit.

True, the basis for the story is the dubious testimony of a mysterious "well-placed source", who is quoted as saying: "It is no secret that Sir Alex wants another striker and he is bound to be attracted by someone of Owen's pedigree at such a competitive price". Indeed it isn't any secret - but does that necessarily mean that Owen's both available and a target? A few too many leaps in logic there, I think - but in our current mood it's hard not to be pessimistic.

Sticking with this source, apparently Man Utd will only make their move if he proves his fitness: "We want to see him in action for several games between now and the end of the season". Well, they'll be lucky, especially as it seems Sunday's game against Chelsea may well come too soon. That'll leave just three club games left before it's time to get out the buckets and spades (I would say "time for a well-earned rest for the players", but I wouldn't want to make you laugh).

Roeder's response to the speculation? "I certainly haven't waited all these months to write Michael Owen's name on my team-sheet to even contemplate selling him". Ah, but Glenn, you can refuse to contemplate all you want - it could be out of your hands, dependent more on Fat Fred and any rogue clauses in his contract. Let's just hope that a sense of loyalty to the club that has nursed him back to fitness induces him to stay on and repay us next term.

Added Roeder: "Personally, I can't wait to see him scoring goals for us that no-one else can". A bit harsh on Obafemi Martins, perhaps, but certainly no-one else seems to be able to score goals at the moment...

The News Of The World article also claimed that Owen has "earmarked England's Euro Championship qualifier against Estonia in June for his international return". Er, not if Fat Fred gets his way he hasn't - we've threatened the FA with an injunction to prevent Owen from playing in that game, and according to Shepherd "our lawyers believe there is a very good chance we can win this case". Not surprising we're less than thrilled at the prospect, really, given that Owen's anterior cruciate knee ligament injury while on international duty has cost us goals and points as well as in excess of £150,000 in treatment...

Meanwhile, as one multi-million-pound superstar looks to return to the side (and then potentially get snaffled by a Champions League chasing team), another has kicked his last ball of the campaign. Yes, just as he was hitting something like the form we've been expecting of him all season, Damien Duff has gone and done his ankle in, and will be unable to add to his paltry return of one solitary goal. Bloody typical.


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