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Lee Clark: My thoughts on Michael Owen; Bobby at Newcastle; Man Utd woes

I was very disappointed to read Michael Owen's comments about Newcastle, but it's not something I'm surprised over after sharing the dressing room with him for what was my final season as a player.

He didn't look like a player who was particularly happy at the club and he didn't look like he really wanted to be there. His comments have just backed that up really, saying that he never considered Newcastle to be a big club and he never really wanted to go there from Real Madrid.

By the sounds of it Real Madrid weren't exactly forcing him out the door, he was quoted as saying that the owner and the president had accepted a bid from Newcastle but they weren't pushing him out. If he was really feeling like that then he was probably better staying at Real Madrid I reckon!

I think when you're having a go at so many people in the industry it's really disappointing, but each to their own. He never caused any problems to anyone when I was there, he just looked like a teammate who didn't really want to be around the football club, he didn't really embrace the club at all in any way so it wasn't much a shock to me with the comments he made in his book.

Obviously he's upset a lot of the fans here in Newcastle after how he spoke about them and about club legend Alan Shearer. It didn't work from day one because of the injuries he picked up in his time here. So it was never the best working situation in terms of the fans never really took to him and he never really took to the fans. It was never really destined to work out.


ENGLAND CERTAINLY CONTENDERS

I really enjoy watching the England national team play at the moment, there's a lot of exciting players about. One of the hardest things for Gareth Southgate is the quality level of their qualifying group. Gareth has said that he's had to ramp up the intensity in training and that's completely fair enough because they are not getting tested often enough for when they come up against teams of a similar level.

The standard of the squad is getting better all the time. It's very impressive. I think they have real genuine opportunities to be successful in the major competitions because I think the quality and the standard of the squad is getting better and better all the time, with the Mason Mount's and James Maddison's of this world, coupled with the experienced lads as well. Raheem Sterling has gone to a new level in his play and his leadership, how he is handling things both on and off the field and how he is coming across when he speaks about things, he has really impressed me.

I think there is a lot of hope and there's a lot of belief in the nation that the team can do well, without getting over-excited like has happened in years gone by when teams have gone to major competitions.


DOUBLE WHAMMY FOR MAN UTD

I've been a bit conflicted watching Manchester United over the start of the season. During the Fergie era there was a distinct philosophy and identity, this 'never say die' quality of player that would always fight to the end, which helped their reputation for scoring late goals to win games. They never let up on that intensity in matches.

But that just doesn't seem to be the case at the moment. Obviously they are in a transition period and from the outside it looks like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to bring those Fergie days back to the club with the signing of some quality young players. So after four games, I would say one thing: it's going to take time.

There has been spells in games where they have looked exciting. Then they've gone and shot themselves in the foot, which Solskjaer has come and out and said after their last two or three games. The toughest thing for me is that while they're not really progressing at the speed they would like, Manchester City and Liverpool are getting stronger and stronger.

And that's the worst case scenario for Manchester United. One, it's bad enough that they are not doing it like they used too, but it's a double whammy to see their two biggest rivals making that gap bigger.


NEXT GENERATION

My son Bobby, got called up to the Newcastle U18 team which is a fantastic achievement considering he's only 14 years of age.

He's doing well and he's being coached and taught well by the people up there. When I was out of work I was able to get the chance to watch him play, because while I was in the management game, it was difficult to watch him.

It's a tough environment as there are so many good young players around the country. He's doing well but there's going to be ups and downs which every young player experiences, just as long as he keeps working hard and listens to his coaches and tries to do the right thing then he might have an opportunity of doing something.

And if he ever wants to pick my brains he can. I'm not sitting there telling him what to do, that's what his coaches are there for, that's why they have the amount of staff in these academies now. I'll be here as his father-figure if he needs any kind of information or help. It's all about the hard-work, he's worked hard to get where he is and it's harder work to get to where he wants to be so let's see what the future brings.

Lee Clark
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Lee Clark

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