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Former Newcastle chairman defends Owen signing

The former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd has defended his position in signing the injury prone Michael Owen on such a lucrative contract. Injuries have limited him to just 79 appearances and critics insist his spell on Tyneside has been nothing short of disastrous.

"Hindsight is a great management tool - everybody's wise after the event," he told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. "It's very easy for people to say signing Michael Owen was a disaster, but everybody said it was a fantastic deal at the time.

"There were no dissenters back then. The clamour for him to sign was immense, and I didn't hear any complaints from the thousands who turned up to welcome him on the day he arrived."

But Shepherd is adamant no one could have foreseen the two serious injuries which have blighted his time on Tyneside. "At the time we signed him, his goals-per-game stats were about the best in the business and his pedigree second to none," he said.

"Plus, he had had no career-threatening injuries and we had his fitness stringently checked out, as Real Madrid had a year before. Yes, things didn't turn out anything like we hoped and expected they would. But nobody - and I mean nobody - saw it coming."

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