Michael Owen and Alan Shearer feud: What happened between former Newcastle strikers?

  • Rob Swan
The story of how Michael Owen and Alan Shearer went from ‘big mates’ to 13-year feud

Michael Owen and Alan Shearer used to be teammates and pretty good friends, but the former Newcastle United and England colleagues no longer see eye to eye.

You’d do well to find a single Newcastle fan with a bad word to say about Shearer, the club’s greatest ever player and the Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer.

On the other hand, you’d do well to find a single Newcastle supporter with a positive word to say about Owen, who joined the Magpies from Real Madrid for £16 million in 2005.

Owen, who scored 30 goals in 79 games at Newcastle, further angered the St James’ Park faithful this week by openly admitting that he was desperate to join Liverpool before and during his ill-fated spell in the north-east.

Read more: Michael Owen tells full story of move to Newcastle from Real Madrid

A return to Anfield never materialised and Owen then ruined his legacy in the eyes of Liverpool fans by signing for Manchester United in 2009.

Owen joined Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, inheriting Cristiano Ronaldo’s No. 7 shirt in the process, after experiencing relegation for the first time in his career with Newcastle.

It was shortly beforehand that the Owen and Shearer feud began.

Michael Owen and Alan Shearer in 2005
NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 8: Michael Owen and Alan Shearer of Newcastle United answer questions during a press conference held by Umbro at the Hilton Hotel Gateshead on September 8, 2005 in Gateshead, England. Both Owen and Shearer will be playing in the Umbro Evolution X boots this season. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

How did the Michael Owen and Alan Shearer feud begin?

Newcastle needed to avoid defeat away at Aston Villa on the final day of the 2008-09 season to avoid being relegated to the Championship.

Shearer wanted to start Owen in order to give his team the best possible chance of getting a result, but the club’s star striker told his manager that he didn’t feel fit enough to play the full 90 minutes.

Owen came on for the final 25 minutes, while Shearer was powerless to prevent his beloved boyhood club from suffering a 1-0 defeat and being relegated from the top-flight. The former England captain has never worked in management since.

Alan Shearer couldn't keep Newcastle in the Premier League in 2009
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – MAY 24: Newcastle United manager Alan Shearer (R) and his assistant manager Iain Dowie react during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park on May 24, 2009 in Birmingham, England. Newcastle United were relegated after their 0-1 defeat by Aston Villa. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Speaking to talkSPORT in 2019, per Chronicle Live, Owen said: “It is sad.

“I have got no problem with Alan. I like the guy, we have great history, but sadly he has this view of myself that I didn’t want to play in this game. I know why he has come to this conclusion but come on. 

“I went into his office the day before the game and said if I were him I would put me on the bench, I am still a week away [from full fitness], but put me on the bench if we need a goal with ten minutes to go. I will loiter around the box for ten minutes and try to nick a goal. He took it in some way that I didn’t want to play. 

“It is sad for everybody. I felt like the scapegoat. Why on earth wouldn’t I want to play? I played the best on the big occasions. Why would I bottle it away at Aston Villa? It is ridiculous.

“Football is about being a hero and scoring goals… If I could have scored a goal that kept Newcastle up I would be absolutely buzzing!

“Why wouldn’t I want to play?

“And as I say: if it was any other game I wouldn’t have been on the bench, but it was the last game and I put myself on the bench. I said to Alan, ‘I’ll do whatever you want’.

“It is a shame because I have nothing but respect for him – his career, him as a person – but I just feel really sad that he almost uses me as a scapegoat for what happened in his managerial career at Newcastle.”

Click here to follow GiveMeSport on Instagram for more football content!

Michael Owen: What did he say about Newcastle in his book?

Ten years later, in 2019, Owen openly admitted that he had huge regrets over his move to Newcastle.

“Liverpool couldn’t match Newcastle’s offer. From a career perspective, there was no doubt in my mind that a move to the North East was a downward step,” he wrote in his book ‘Michael Owen: Reboot – My Life, My Time’, per The Mirror.

“As unpalatable as that opinion might be to Newcastle fans, that’s more or less what I felt.”

Owen continued: “The day after signing, the club flew me up to be greeted by twenty thousand delighted fans at St. James’ Park. Instantly, I felt like a hero…

Michael Owen when he signed for Newcastle
NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND – AUGUST 31: Newcastle United’s new signing Michael Owen is introduced to the fans at St James’ Park on August 31, 2005 in Newcastle, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

“The fans never knew anything about any of the behind-the-scenes goings on which occurred during my time there but my relationship with them was damaged beyond repair when I was knocked out against Watford .

“When I got home, I switched on Match Of The Day to watch the game and I could hear Newcastle fans, my fans, singing ‘what a waste of money!’ as I’m being stretchered off.

“I can’t deny their actions that day changed things for me. No longer was I even going to attempt to ingratiate myself with the fans. Instead, I flipped it in a slightly more resentful way thinking, I don’t need to justify myself to f ****** Newcastle fans.”

He added: “Freddy Shepherd came out with the line that he would happily ‘carry Michael Owen back to Anfield himself’. Being a huge fan of the club also, Freddy was only doing what all the fans constantly do at almost every football club: they believe that their club is ten per cent bigger and that their team is ten per cent better than it actually is.

“This kind of blind delusion is especially true of Newcastle United – which, as I reach for the nearest tin hat, is only a big club in the sense that it has a lot of fans and a big stadium.

“They’re historically not successful off the pitch, in fact quite the opposite mostly. And they’ve never really won much on it in recent times.”

Michael Owen did not enjoy his time at Newcastle
NEWCASTLE, UNITED KINGDOM – APRIL 27: Michael Owen of Newcastle looks on dejectedly after a miss during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Portsmouth at St James’ Park on April 27, 2009 in Newcastle, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Michael Owen and Alan Shearer’s Twitter spat – What was said?

Shearer saw what Owen had written and reacted by tweeting a clip from an interview on BT Sport, where Owen had said: “So all I did at the end my career for six or seven years, I hated it and couldn’t wait to retire.”

Shearer tweeted: “Yes Michael, we thought that also, whilst on £120k a week…”

Owen hit back with a tweet questioning Shearer’s loyalty to Newcastle.

“Not sure you are as loyal to Newcastle as you make out mate,” he tweeted. “I distinctly remember you being inches away from signing for Liverpool after Sir Bobby Robson put you on the bench. You tried everything to get out.”

Michael Owen's tweet to Alan Shearer

When Gary Lineker tweeted: “Awkward”, Owen replied: “Are you surprised he’s manipulated a tiny part of an honest answer to aim a cheap dig at me? Most ex players I’ve spoken to aren’t.”

Michael Owen's tweet to Gary Lineker

Michael Owen and Alan Shearer ‘don’t speak or work together’

In December 2021, Owen then revealed that him and Shearer haven’t spoken since their 2019 Twitter spat.

In August, The Mirror revealed their feud is still ongoing and that the pair don’t work together across the media, despite being high-profile pundits.

“I know what Alan thinks and he knows what I think,” Owen told the Daily Mail last year.

“But he’s stubborn and I’m stubborn. I lived in his house when I first signed for Newcastle, we played golf every day. I was big mates with him. But he started something that I thought was wrong.

“I like Alan, as it happens. I know what would happen if we were in a room. We’d shake hands, have a little stare at each other.

“We’d need 10 minutes to each say our piece and he would still believe what he believes and I would still tell him you’re barking up the wrong tree. We’d stubbornly agree to disagree and have a pint together.

Alan Shearer and Michael Owen in happier times
BLACKBURN, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 18 : Michael Owen of Newcastle is congratulated by Alan Shearer on scoring the second goal during the Barclays Premiership match between Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United on September 18, 2005 at Ewood Park in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

“But if he thinks I was pulling out of a game against Aston Villa… I was born to play big games. I know why he thinks that. Do you think he’s going to look in the mirror and say, “That was my fault, I was a bad manager”?

“He has to blame someone, I would be the same. I used to get in the car on a Saturday with my dad when I hadn’t scored and say my team-mates were at fault.

“I don’t blame Alan for thinking Newcastle being relegated was nothing to do with him. Find scapegoats, it’s great for the mind. I used to do it all the time.

“But deep down I think he knows he’s wrong to think that. He just won’t admit it.”

News Now - Sport News