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Shepherd fires angry Owen tirade at FA
8:48am Thursday 22nd June 2006 in Sport
Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd believes the Football Association's compensation for Michael Owen's injury is ''far too low.''
FA spokesman Adrian Bevington has confirmed the insurance policy in place for all England players will compensate the Magpies for the loss of their £103,000-a-week striker while he recovers from the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament which ended his World Cup.
However, the St James' Park chief, who will discover later this week how long Owen will be out of action, is not happy with the payment they will receive.
He said: ''When you lend somebody something and they return them injured and broken then you shouldn't have to pay for the repair.
''That what's happened at Newcastle and the level of compensation isn't high enough in my opinion.
''Players move on, players wages move on and transfer fees move on so the level (of compensation) is far too low.''
Bevington confirmed: ''We have an insurance policy in place for all players that covers their salaries while they are injured.''
Recent reports suggested that Manchester United were unhappy with the cover as Wayne Rooney was passed fit following his fractured metatarsal.
But Shepherd, who saw Owen sidelined for the final five months of last season by a similar problem to Rooney's, is understood to have ensured there was no margin for error by opting for his own safety net, although it is the FA's arrangement which will bear the brunt of the cost.
Owen has managed only ten starts and one further appearance as a substitute since his arrival at St James' Park, although he scored seven goals.
His own metatarsal injury, suffered in a collision with international team-mate Paul Robinson at Tottenham on December 31, limited him to half an hour of football for Newcastle thereafter.
"Obviously it is a massive blow to suffer the injury," said a philosophical Owen, who flew to his Chester home from Germany yesterday.
"As soon as it happened I knew I was in trouble.
"I'll now work with the Newcastle medical staff to put a recovery programme in place.
"I'm clearly sorry to be leaving the lads behind in Germany but I'm sure they can go on and achieve success. I'll be following all the matches very closely and giving them my full support, hopefully all the way to Berlin.
"My main objective now is to get fit as quickly as possible for Newcastle United."
Magpies boss Glenn Roeder had hoped Owen would come back from the World Cup with a winner's medal and a hatful of goals ready to assume the mantle of the retired Alan Shearer.
But now he is facing the prospect of not only finding replacements for the former England captain and the departed Michael Chopra, but also, in the short-term, Owen.
"Now people will understand why Sir Alex Ferguson has been jumping up and down at Old Trafford about the Wayne Rooney situation," said Roeder speaking from Warwick University where he is taking the first steps to completing his Pro-Licence qualification.
"Wayne Rooney will probably be the difference between Manchester United winning the Premiership title or not.
"And Michael Owen is the same for us. Strikers like Alan Shearer and Michael Owen just do not grow on trees and you just cannot go out and get another one."
Nevertheless, the United boss revealed his initial concerns were with the welfare of his injured frontman rather than what the immediate future holds at St James' Park.
"Nobody knows better than me what is like to be struck by a thunderbolt and how suddenly your life can be chopped away from under you," said the 50-year old.
"But the measure of a man is how he picks himself up and comes back and, in this sense, Michael Owen is a big man and he will come back.
"Yes, it is a massive blow, but what Newcastle United will not do is wallow in self-pity and we will not be crying over any spilt milk.
"When the going gets tough the tough get going and that's what we and Michael Owen will do.
"It's easy to be selfish in situations like this, but my first thoughts were for Michael."
Roeder and his players are due to begin pre-season training next Wednesday with only Shola Ameobi and under-achieving £9.5million signing Albert Luque left in the striking pool with their Intertoto Cup campaign due to get under way over the weekend of July 15-16.
Roeder has confessed to being an admirer of Holland striker Dirk Kuyt. Former Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City frontman Nicolas Anelka is also an option after he professed a desire to play on Tyneside, although he does carry a lot of baggage.
Shepherd recently revealed the club were close to making a bid for Fernando Torres prior to splashing £17m on Owen last summer. But the Spaniard's stock has risen considerably during the World Cup and his recent performances have likely priced him out a move to St James' Park.
Shepherd, however, was quick to reassure fans that the right men would be found.
He said: ''We always have targets and we always come up with the goods.
''I'd like to reassure the fans that we have always delivered guys in the past, so leave it to us to sort it out in the transfer market.''
Shepherd promised the club would forge ahead with its bid for European football and, pending confirmation of the length of Owen's absence, preparations for the new campaign.
He said: ''Let's see when the swelling goes down just how bad it is. Michael is out for a few months now. I can't see him coming back in four or five months and we'll have to press on because Newcastle is Newcastle.''
The Magpies preparations were similarly rocked when Shearer was seriously injured in a pre-season tournament prior to the 1997-98 season.
On that occasion the club allowed Les Ferdinand, who had plundered 50 goals in two seasons at St James Park, to move to Tottenham Hotspur.
As a consequence the Tynesiders suffered a wretched Premier League campaign, finishing 14th, although Shearer's return just after Christmas coincided with an FA Cup final appearance.
A similar fate could fall upon the club this season if they don't act quickly.