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Ex-Newcastle striker Owen defends Ashley era

Former Newcastle United striker Michael Owen has defended the work of club owner Mike Ashley.

Owen, who spent four years on Tyneside following a £16million move from Real Madrid, believes Ashley has scored "par" at St James' Park.

Owen told the Mail on Sunday: "When people talk about a club of Newcastle's size, yes it's a big stage with a big following but they aren't used to winning trophies every year, are they?

"It depends how you quantify a big club - they aren't steeped in history in terms of winning the league dozens of times or anything like that.

"I look at them now and see an established Premier League team who you don't look at and think are going to go down. That could be classified as success in itself.

"OK, they have had the heady heights of qualifying for the Champions League in the past but they have also flirted with relegation and been relegated. To be midway in the Premier League, they are doing fine. I'd say a par score for Mike Ashley.

"He bought Newcastle and put money into the club. They had a fantastic season two years ago, flying high and spending really wisely in the French market. Last season was a bit of a low. This year they've been inconsistent.

"We know times have changed from a decade ago when they were the great entertainers and thousands of fans turned up to welcome big-money signings. It's a more sensible ship now."

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