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Michael Owen vs Oliver Holt: Players vs Media

Michael Owen has been a bit of fresh air where footballers on Twitter are concerned. He can spell, his use of grammar is good and amazingly, he isn’t totally boring. He has come across as nice enough bloke and interacts with the fans well.

Last night he got a lot of stick from fans of several different clubs, after mentioning being booed at Sports Direct @ St James Park when he came off the bench.

United fans wanted to know why he cared less about being booed by Newcastle/Liverpool fans, whilst, presumably, Newcastle fans were giving him a lot of hassle and explaining exactly why he got booed.

Amidst all of this came a fairly interesting conversation between Owen and journalist Oliver Holt.

themichaelowen: Knew I would get booed as that’s what a lot of fans do but if they knew the facts then they may have a different opinion.

OllieHoltMirror: Honest question then Michael: why don’t you tell them the facts?

themichaelowen: From what most of you Newcastle fans are saying you should be pleased I left the club! If i had known that earlier I could have left sooner!

themichaelowen: From what most of you Newcastle fans are saying you should be pleased I left the club! If i had known that earlier I could have left sooner!

themichaelowen: For the record, I tried my best in every game for Newcastle. Under KK I played well and i’ll never forget the 2 I scored against Sunderland.

themichaelowen: When I meet Newcastle or Liverpool fans they all respect what I’ve done for their clubs. In stadiums it changes, 1 boo and the rest follow.

themichaelowen: By the way, im not looking for sympathy. As long as my family don’t boo me when I walk through the door I couldn’t care less!!!

OllieHoltMirror: Something tells me @themichaelowen has entered a world of pain on Twitter tonight. Reminds me of my Nani days.

OllieHoltMirror: At least @themichaelowen is answering some questions. Giving better insight than a lot of players do on here

themichaelowen: I try to answer most questions Ollie but can’t be arsed being a back page story so some things don’t need to be said!

OllieHoltMirror: Fair enough, Michael. But I think sometimes if fans and journalists knew facts, there would be more sympathy with players.

themichaelowen: Fair point. The relationship between players and media is poor and needs improving as the people who suffer are fans.

OllieHoltMirror: Probably worse now between media and players than back in 97-98 when you burst on to scene. More contact then, I think.

themichaelowen: If papers printed what is actually said then i think players would talk to you more openly. I know I would.

themichaelowen: it’s the sensationalising of headlines that annoys most players. It makes us look like clowns when most lads are normal.

OllieHoltMirror: You have spent a lot of your career writing for our newspapers, though Michael, both tabloids and broadsheets.

themichaelowen: but I made sure I had headline approval! My point is, the articles are fine, it’s the headlines that make us look stupid.

OllieHoltMirror: Headlines are a problem for a lot of writers, too. Comes down to trusting a journalist to look after you, I suppose

themichaelowen: and there is my point. The trust just isn’t there hence the relationship between players and journalists is non existent.

OllieHoltMirror: Agreed. Think we are at a point where writers need to fight for right headline to ensure bit of trust with player spoken to

OllieHoltMirror: players and media stuck in bad cycle now. Understand why trust has broken down but less contact is making things worse

OllieHoltMirror: Part of problem is no contact. GNev said journos should stay in England hotel so we’d have to face you after bad piece

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. gerkeo says:

    GNev is right, if the players could face the journos on the bluushit they print then it would work so much better. for instance the daily mails headline today on hernandez, chicacheato.

  2. manc_sam says:

    We wont boo you lad !

  3. United99 says:

    Oliver Holt is the biggest ABU idiot around. Does anything to get a reaction or a story. All journalists hate united, end of!

    We should not be talking about owen, we need to be looking at ourselves and asking why we haven’t scored a goal in 2 games! We will win the league but we are making it hard for ourselves and giving the media a reason to create a story. Come on reds lets get our form back!

  4. gerkeo says:

    *bluu should be bull.

    the newcastle crowd reaction was ridiculous, chanting “one greedy bastard”, booing him for not staying when they got religated to the championship.
    Greedy bastard?: hes on a basic 10k a week contract at united, chicken feed in todays terms.
    it think its one more appearance for owen gets him a premier league medal too, that he’ll get a medal on the day of our 19th title. that will be the cherry on top.

  5. manc_sam says:

    Hernandez went to stand back up, didnt appeal yet the ref never gave him a chance and got the card out the stupid twat… !

  6. King Eric says:

    gerkeo – Thats exactly what I thought mate. “One greedy bastard”. Yeah I reckon he is on considerably less at United.

  7. AlphaRS says:

    Yeah stick it to em Michael. He raises some good points about the trust between the players and the media.
    The media are their to make money and they do this through sensationalising stories in order to get sales. The quicker the average football fan understands this the better. Then perhaps they would think twice about booing someone. Half the squad left and Owen is the one who get’s the flack because he left on a free. I doubt Newcastle even offered him a contract.

  8. Briggsy says:

    Can you blame the players not speaking to the media. They must know when speaking the them, that somewhere along the line, it will get changed to mean something else. They print so much twist and hyperbole that I stopped reading the press a long time ago. Sadly it’s an infection that has spread to the TV news programs as well.

    The boom of excellent, (partially) non-biased and non-hyperbole blogs like these mean that papers are fighting for readers. So they resort to writing shit, as most news has already been told before they go to print, and its always an ‘Exclusive’ to tempt people to buy it.

    Plus, most journalist sound like they have mass god complexes.

    That’s my rant over.

  9. NotoriousRedDevil says:

    Most journos remind me of the bitter kids at school who were shit at sport and thus take it out on them now they write. As they say the pen is mightier than the sword which is definitely true in this poncey emasculated society we live in today, where even a hint of passion can be misconstrued as “classless.” If you don’t tow the line in order what these geeks want then expect to be vilified and slaughtered in the press until life is made into a living hell.

    Owen’s twitter conversation with Holt pointed out exactly why I refuse to buy a newspaper. Nothing in it is true, they make things up in order to line their pockets. He’s 2 games away from getting a medal if we win the league lets hope it happens.

  10. darsh says:

    He deserved to be booed, he is a mercenery and his time as Newcastle proves it. The FACTS are Michael you cost alot of money and gave nothing back, if you had done what you did at Newcastle to us, (be injured for years, play a handful of games, last in at training, first out and generally do sweet f’ all then as soon as his 100k a week contract runs out; runs somewhere else) then we would all boo you, thank god you scored against City or i think we would already would.

    I am a Manchester United fan and have since day one wanted this guy to leave. The summer will be your exit and do the footballing world a favour for the first time in your money grabbing life. Retire.

    Hes crap, simple.

  11. WHAT ??? says:

    Heres hoping RedNevs retirement will bring about some much needed Activism in the game. Christ, just stating an informed opinion in football nowadays can be considered as Radical. But he’s spot on about increasing Accountability.

    As for the Journo’s…

    it was only the other day I found out the only reason the PFA is at an odd time of year is so the PLAYERS awards don’t overshadow the Football WRITERS Awards at the end of the season. Now how ridiculous is that? Thats the Official stance of the FA. Gary Pallister said recently that needs to change, and the awards decided by Footballers should be at the end of the season, not squeezed in randomly before the big competitions are even decided. Spot On. We all know Footballers respect the opinion of their peers more so than parasitic journalists, but the awards decided BY FOOTBALLERS is forced to make way for the PENCIL PUSHERS? And the FA sanction this? What a load of Bollocks. The real issue in football today is accountability for the FA and the Media, the players, managers and clubs are all just scapegoats.

  12. Costas says:

    Very well said Mickey. :) I liked these two tweets:

    themichaelowen: If papers printed what is actually said then i think players would talk to you more openly. I know I would.

    themichaelowen: it’s the sensationalising of headlines that annoys most players. It makes us look like clowns when most lads are normal.

    Spot on.

  13. redarmy7 says:

    darsh how can you hate on a utd player so much, against southampton he got a goal to get us back in the game and won the ball back for the second, his city goal alone last season…you aint no utd fan, back all utd players till the end.

    if you show this, then how do you expect players to show passion and commitment on the pitch, you ever played football son?

  14. Costas says:


    Well said. Not to mention the hat trick agaist Wolfsburg.

  15. Hammons says:

    Well done, Mikey O. Refreshing to say the least. Articulated as mentioned by Scott but sophistically opinionated

    Putting Players On Pedestals Is A Dangerous Game

  16. MisterDavid says:

    Owen’s clearly a decent bloke – not his fault he got played 35+ games a season as a teenager and his body couldn’t take it. And he’s right about journalists, there’s a reason players are trained to talk like politicians now – the reaction to Rio’s article last week is a case in point.

    As for his time at OT? Well, if he’d only ever scored that winner against City, he’d still have been worth it.

  17. StreetFleet says:

    As a Fleet St sports journalist of a great many years’ standing, serving as a senior staffer on a number of papers including one for more than 25 years, there is a lot of merit in what Michael and Oliie each say.

    An easy get-out in the past for a writer/reporter, over a poorly received piece of work, would be to blame the sub-editor. Not any more. I can say from experience that the sub will almost certainly have tried to his level best to do a headline that reflects the story, only for an executive (often from the news side of a newspaper and with little experience of sports journalism) to interfere and change it to suit his — or the paper’s — current agenda. It triggers a vicious circle: for the next big story, toadying sports desk executives will then try to second-guess the editorial executive — outdo him even — and the result is an even more outlandish heading that further alienates the football industry from the newspaper industry.

    Worse than that, though, is the tendency for headlines to be written, by an editorial executive, well in advance of the story actually being prepared. I’ve had many rows with bosses, particularly in recent years, when I’ve pointed out that the pre-prepared headline and the story do not square up. Guess what? It is invariably the story that has to be changed. And, when the paper hits the street, it is the reporter/writer who gets it in the neck when it’s often not his fault. In turn, he’ll blame the sub, but again the fault can lie further up the chain.

    Another big problem is the internet. Agents feed stories to whatever outlet they can, simply with the intention of putting their clients’ names into the public domain. That’s part of their job. Experienced journalists know how to sift out the wheat from the chaff, but — and I don’t want to sound condescending here — not all websites have that same ability to disseminate. Once a snippet appears on one website, another picks it up and, like a snowball rolling down a hill, it grows and grows until it becomes a full-blown issue that probably has little substance in fact. (Just think of how many keepers United are about to ‘sign’ this summer, according to the internet).

    Unfortunately, those self-same editorial executives I mentioned earlier (invariably lacking a sports desk background) also read the internet and see something on the likes of Newsnow or a newspaper web page. They then badger their own sports desk to find out the strength of the story, and even if there is little or nothing to it, they insist on something at least appearing on their own website. Either that or they will draft a headline for the paper and present it to the sports desk, which then instructs a reporter to write a story to suit….as I say, a vicious circle.

    The lines of communication between player and journalist (and thence the fans) have broken down almost irrevocably. The days when players and reporters could socialise have gone (largely because of the huge disparity in earnings). There’s little opportunity for proper friendships to be forged and two-way trust to be established. Invariably, now, when a journalist gets access to a player it is either through a pre-arranged interview with an agreed agenda, or through a sponsored event, again with a controlled set of questions and answers. Often, in desperation, a journalist in need of a story will be forced to swallow some agent spiel, or trawl Newsnow…as I say, a vicious circle.

    Doubtless some might accuse me of being the old soldier (I’m a fiftysomething) bleating on about the good old days. But the truth is that it WAS better 20-30 years ago — football and newspaper trusted each other and had a grudging mutual respect. I love my industry, I love my football club and I love being a football fan. It breaks my heart that those three elements no longer seem mutually compatible.

  18. WHAT ??? says:

    For the record: Owen has been world class for years and has already proved his worth as a United squad player. Anything else from the Lad between now and the end of his time with us will just be icing the cake. Take a Bow mate, we’ll never forget that goal.

  19. King Eric says:

    darsh – Yeah classy.

    God I fucking give up.

    Meanwhile the Chich a cheato thread on the mail is at EIGHTY comments from abu’s and counting.

  20. Costas says:

    @King Eric

    Tell me you are not reading all those comments. :D

  21. StreetFleet says:

    @King Eric

    Your point clearly backs up what I’ve been saying. The Daily Mail is a case in point — they have a very strong ABU agenda (look how they led the anti-Rooney campaign that got the two-game ban) and how they have reacted to our two most recent performances. For them, it was not so much that City won at Wembley but that United lost, and are not worthy even to be challenging. It’s the same today, although my copy of their match report by Colin Young hardly makes any sense.

    I know lads who have worked at the Mail and they are embarrassed by some of the stuff that’s published. From what I’m told, their bosses are all West Ham, Spurs or Chelsea fans who simply detest United. It’s why they’re desperate to stitch up a United player at every opportunity — any minor indiscretion is blown out of all proportion. And they always portray as a victim any woman — including any who allegedly seek cash for their company — when the other party may be a predatory evil United player. Others, like actors, judges, policemen, etc, who seek out women who charge, virtually escape attention. Basically these ABU journos see it as their duty to damage United in ways that their own teams can’t — and, in the case of Rooney’s ban, they succeeded.

  22. King Eric says:

    StreetFleet – A great perspective mate. Interesting to hear what goes on. Cheers.

    Costas – Most of them mate , yes. They amuse me to be honest. Absolute vitriol and bile from the haters on there.

    Well what a night tonight. United youth v Rentboys for starters, Spurs v Arsenal for mains then Fascists v Barca for dessert. Wife well chuffed.

  23. United till I die says:

    Has Owen played in enough league games to get a winners medal?

  24. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Michael Owen has been class for us. Bit player, but classy. Sat on the bench and may miss out on a winners medal if we can’t work him in to 2 more games. Bet he won’t say a word! Goal v City and hat trick in the CL were what he is about. Could see him staying to be honest. He is 5’8″ of class on our bench and I would never count him out. Bet he makes less than Obertan. If he was more rugged he would be on everybodies game sheet every day. Just saying.

    BEST LINE: themichaelowen: By the way, im not looking for sympathy. As long as my family don’t boo me when I walk through the door I couldn’t care less!!!

    @fleetstreet. Interesting backstory there. Please contribute more.

  25. Lovin' United says:

    Wow, Mickey Owen doesn’t sound like your typical scouse…

  26. StreetFleet says:


    I could contribute more, but I’ve got to be very careful I don’t reveal my identity or my employer — for obvious reasons.

    Perhaps Scott could get in touch privately and we could set up some sort of irregular blog?

  27. dannysoya says:

    Michael Owen was SPOT ON in his assessment of the relationship between the players and the media. Who the hell would want to talk to you when you constantly try to destroy their careers in Newspapers and on TV? i am not just speaking for United players i am speaking for players of other clubs as well. If i was a star player. you’d barely hear from me as well. I mean are you telling me that Wayne Rooney or John Terry or Steven Gerrard or EVEN Fabio Capello would be willing to talk to the sun or daily fail or mirror right now? after all you’ve done to them? NO WAY. it is common sense. If you want me to talk to you treat me with respect.

  28. supertramp says:

    Michael Owen is purely CLASS! I bet if you give him a regular run he would give everyone a run for their money, so the haters… get off his arse already. If u hated him coz he’s a scouser, get over it… he plays for United now…. BACK HIM!

  29. mattbw7 says:

    Does Hammon ever post anything without advertising his own blog?

  30. sandeep1878 says:

    daily mail cunts calling our chicha the cheato..

    bloody cunts!!!

    i have never ever read about the fucking Walcott or malouda or Drogba Dives..

    here they are ABU cunts, one incident, that too not a dive, they are on it..

    what else u can expect?..

    they will come for BJ after we win title..


    on a different news,

    chelsea are more of a threat than arsenal now (always were)

    3 home games on teh run, then a visit to us and to the toffees..

    its not easy..

    all we need to do is stick to the basics and watch some title comebacks and convert that on the field..

    if we ever going to lose this title race, then it will have massive impacts and consequences..

    but i believe in our players, they will go for it, i m sure the hair dryer was out even though SAF said hez happy for a point after the game..

    a trip to Ewood park still hanging..OMG..i hope its not like the last trip..i certainly hope not..

    personally i would like to seal the title on our game against chelsea..

    our OT faithful deserves the celbrations..

    19reds arer out


  31. dazjoe says:

    Real Madrid accepted Newcastle’s bid in July, yet it was deadline day that Owen signed for Newcastle, he waited for weeks and weeks hoping someone else would come in for him, as he never wanted to go there. He was eventually left with 2 options, stay rotting at Madrid, or get first team football at Newcastle, and this was in a World Cup year; he HAD to move in order to go to the World Cup. Money had nothing whatsoever to do with it. You really think had Liverpool, Arsenal, or ourselves came in for him then, and offered less money than Newcastle, he would have knocked us back? If so, then get real kidda!
    He got injured, so fucking what? It was his fault was it? You gonna slag Neville off for barely kicking a ball for 2 years? You gonna slag Solksjaer off for not kicking a ball for 3 years? You gonna slag Hargreaves off for not kicking a ball for 2 and a half years? Players don’t want/choose to get injured. It happens.
    And he then had the choice of playing Championship football or Champions League football, and he chose the Champions League, what a horrible wanker! Sure Evra, Vidic, Rio, Nani, and Rooney would stay if we were relagated, eh?
    In his time at us, he’s scored a last minute winner over City, an equliser in a Wembley cup final, a Champions League hatrick, and an late equlizer at Bolton, but you hate him and wish he’d fuck off? Moron.

  32. sandeep1878 says:

    @ darsh..

    are u on high?

    so all the players except ourt academy boys are mercenaries for you eh?

    u know what, you hate Michael Owen, and u can go to any extent to dump him..thats true..

    Dint our Rooney tried to leave us?

    its funny how people love the players who cause more damage to the club than the leass damaged players..

    next, it was we the MANCHESTER UTD who approached OWEN..

    if he is mercenary then so is SAF..

    get your facts right..

    a perefct mercenary is the one by the name TEVEZ..we threw an offer,he rejected..

    he created an image amongst the fans that he dint have any offers from us so he is moving..

    as i said, its funny how the fans are,

    Owen..let him be a scouse or wateva..He has done nothing wrong..

    i respect OWEN for that matter..


  33. kk says:

    I always liked the fellow and I hoped SAF signed him up. I hope he gets a medal.

  34. Maheep says:


  35. Denise Williams says:

    Darsh here are the facts. Mike Ashley tried to sell Owen behind his and his manager’s backs he then made him a half hearted contract offer. Owen quite rightly and entirely understandably would not sign. Would you knowing the owner did not really want you? Following the club’s relegation from the Premiership that contract offer was withdrawn so Owen had no choice but to leave. Now please tell me how that makes Owen a mercenary? Quite frankly it is reading this kind of rubbish that really makes my blood boil. Personally I do not believe you even support Manchester United. One other fact the media know the accuracy of my statements regarding Owen’s situation at Newcastle however they choose not to print it as it would fly in the face of their Anti Owen agenda. One other reason for players poor relationship with the media and another thing Owen got right.

  36. leetguy101 says:

    Respect for Oliver Holt just went up a bit. Ditto Michael Owen. He tweets like an educated man – I like that. Incredible striker back then, still fairly good when fit. I don’t understand why he gets so much crap. Not his fault he’s unlucky with injuries. Owen Hargreaves is similarly unlucky. Big shame.


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