Owen defends Shearer
Former Newcastle striker Michael Owen has insisted Alan Shearer was not to blame for the club's relegation in 2009.
Shearer, who was in charge for the final eight games of that season, and new director of football Joe Kinnear, who had presided over the club for a little more than six months earlier in the campaign, have had a very public difference of opinion over who was responsible for the Magpies' demise.
However, Owen, who has also been criticised for his contribution to a survival fight which came up short, is adamant a combination of factors was to blame. He told the Chronicle: "Certainly Alan Shearer was only in charge for a short period of time at the end. You certainly cannot blame him for us going down."
Owen added: "It was a steady progression over a period of time more so than what Alan did. Everyone was really up for the fight when he came in. The enthusiasm was there and the crowd were up for it. Unfortunately, things just did not work the way we hoped."
Newcastle were ultimately relegated after a final day 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa in which Owen was only able to appear as a substitute because of a muscle injury.
It proved to be his final game in a black and white shirt at the end of a four-year stay following his £16million switch from Real Madrid.
Serious injuries severely limited the England international during his time on Tyneside, although he strongly refutes suggestions he simply did not care about the club's plight.
He said: "I was hurt and it is ridiculous to suggest anything else. I had a lot of pride. I wanted to do it for the fans and the friends I had made up there. We all wanted to.
"As I was leaving soon after, I was an easy target. Whether it was myths about helicopters or me not living up there. Then it all goes into one pot and gives people the wrong impression.
"I just felt I was an easy target by the end of my time."