Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems


… Or the Michael Owen Paradox…

Y U No

England's Michael Owen on Twitter

I’m going old school on this blog post, and writing it on a train from Berlin to Dresden. Pen and Paper y’all! Proper hipster…

(Obviously I have since typed this up…)

Michael Owen, hereafter to be referred to as England’s Michael Owen (or EMO), recently played (translates as ‘was on the pitch’) for Manchester United against his former employer, the mighty Newcastle United, and felt the need to comment (via Twitter) on the treatment Newcastle fans gave him during his return to the scene of his glorious four-year spell in the North-East.

Apparently, every time he meets a Newcastle fan, they express gratitude for ‘what he did for the club’, but the booing and chanting about him being a “greedy bastard” were examples of the crowd just going along with a vocal minority.

Let’s go back to the idea of Newcastle fans being grateful for EMO’s contribution during his time on Tyneside (naturally I checked for these figures while typing my notes up. I tend not to keep a range of EMO statistics in my head).

£16,000,000 transfer fee.
£20,800,000 in wages (based on the conservative estimate of £100,000 per week for four years).

That’s a lot. £36.8 million, in fact. But, at the time, we were signing a proven goalscorer weren’t we? England’s best striker, an established goalscorer who had a point to prove to everyone after not being the success he thought he would be at Real Madrid.

So, what did he actually do on Tyneside?

79 games (including substitute appearances, which all subsequent figures will include).
30 goals.

If that was over two seasons, it would be ok. Not a great goalscoring ratio, but acceptable for sure. But over four seasons!? That averages out at:

20 games per season (rounding up to give EMO the benefit of the doubt).
7.5 goals per season.

Hmm. The ratio of goals per game is ok, (one every two-and-a-half games or so), but 20 games per season is not what you would expect from such a huge outlay. Using my estimate of his wages at the time, which is lower than I have seen anywhere, and therefore more generous to EMO than you will find in most places, he cost Newcastle:

£465,822.78 per game.
£1,226,666.67 per goal.

Wow, let me repeat that.

£465,822.78 per game.
£1,226,666.67 per goal.

And that is solely in terms of transfer fee and wages. That does not take into account any signing-on fee, which would certainly have been a generous one, bonuses and assorted other perks in his contract.

£465,822.78 per game.
£1,226,666.67 per goal.

EMO apologists would argue that he was injured a lot.

No one would disagree with that.

He missed a lot of games due to injury, as reflected in his poor average of only 20 games per season, and if his contract did not have measures in place to reduce the wage paid during times of injury, that is certainly not his fault. After all, who turns down money?

But, the fact is, he never seemed to be bothered at all about the club. As once commented, he spent four years with a “face like a smacked arse”. And it’s not only that he didn’t seem to care about the club that grated, and continues to grate, on Newcastle fans. It hurt more that he always seemed to prioritise his England career. All interviews he gave would mention his hope to be back in the England team for such and such a game. Never a Newcastle game, always an England game. The fact that he was injured in December 2005 (his first season at the club), and then only played one more game that season before making himself unavailable for the club so that he was fit for the World Cup symbolises the disdain he held for our great club, the one which paid him handsomely for 20 games per season. This selfishness was, of course, rewarded with an injury in the first half of England’s first game at the competition, causing him to miss almost a year of football. Who suffered here? His employer. Our club.

EMO also tweeted (I’m back in the present now – keep up kids!) that he would never forget scoring two goals against sunderland. In wrestling, this is called a ‘cheap pop’, saying something to get an instant reaction (either favourable or unfavourable) from the hometown crowd.

Two goals against sunderland.

To put that into perspective, Shola Ameobi, who was never capped by England (there’s still time, Shola! Shola would look great in an England cap, and we all know how much Shola loves hats), has scored 5 against sunderland.

In fact, here is a list of  the other people who have scored two or more goals against sunderland in Newcastle’s colours since I was born in 1983 (again, I had to research this – we all know that EMO has a keen legal team, so I can’t allow any errors to creep into this):

Kevin Nolan
Alan Shearer
Craig Bellamy
Liam O’ Brien
Peter Beardsley

He did score two, don’t get me wrong. And traditionally we love anyone who has stuck the ball in the onion bag against sunderland (we’re easy like that), but from him, against that record-setting sunderland team (which collected a huge 15 points that season), it means nothing.

Hell, Albert Luque scored against that same team.

EMO also said that Newcastle fans didn’t ‘know the facts’. Presumably these facts would make us love him again, just like the whole world should love EMO. What were these facts, then?

He didn’t say.

Hmm… It’s quite had to defend your lacklustre approach at a club who paid you extremely handsomely over a four year period by blaming some mystery facts that will never be known.

I have a fact for you, Michael:

Some female penguins turn to prostitution in return for stones. Penguin prostitution, Michael. That certainly wasn’t going on in Madagascar (the film. Please don’t let me influence your opinion of a country without proof. If there are any penguins in Madagascar (the country), I am sure that they are perfectly charming).

(For more excellent Michael Owen facts, check out some examples from Chris Faulkner’s Twitter page here, here and here).

Perhaps it was an innate worry caused by the knowledge that a number of female penguins feel they have to turn to prostitution that lead to sympathy injuries in EMO?

And if it was, I am sure that we would all feel a lot more sympathy for this highly-paid young man who holds animal welfare in such high esteem.

But you didn’t come out and say that, did you Michael?

No doubt you will reveal these facts in an expensive autobiography in the future.

I can’t wait to read it online (I sure as hell am not gonna buy it).

My money is on the facts being related to penguin prostitution.

He also said that, if he knew the Newcastle fans actually felt, he could have left the club sooner.

No he couldn’t.

He was damaged goods. No one would pay those wages, or a transfer fee for him based on his disinterested performances and irregular appearances.

He couldn’t have left until his contract ran out, which it did when we were relegated.

Unfortunately, at the inflated price and wages we signed him for, we could not cut our costs by cancelling his contract. And he would not have offered to terminate his contract as he would have had to take less money elsewhere.

And we all know why he didn’t do that.


Or he needed the money to fund a scheme to rescue penguins from prostitution.

About Neil

28 years old. Geordie. Lived in Berlin almost three years. All-round canny lad.
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28 Responses to Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

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