MICHAEL Owen believes the future is looking bright at Newcastle United as he again responded to questions about whether he will sign a new contract this summer by expressing his happiness on Tyneside.
Owen’s place in the history of the club was assured when he became the record signing at £16.5m in August 2005, but two goals in a Tyne-Wear derby will make a worthy footnote in his Newcastle career.
The 28-year-old, who will only have 12 months left on his existing contract in June, has been in tremendous form since Kevin Keegan returned and his manager is desperate to ensure he stays by getting him to agree a new deal.
Talks are expected to begin in the next few weeks and the indication from Owen is that he is extremely happy at a club he believes is moving in the right direction again.
He said: “My contract is up next year but I’m very happy here. This is probably the most exciting time since I came to Newcastle.
“I couldn’t be happier with the new manager. I’ve enjoyed playing under him, and with the fans. I’m probably in the best part of my Newcastle career so far, hoping there will be even better times ahead. I stated to the fans in my programme notes that talks haven’t begun, and yet the manager has pulled me to one side and said he wants me to stay and that the club will be getting in touch with me soon to talk.
“I haven’t spoken to the club yet. Obviously, I would think that maybe in the close season they will approach me and my adviser. It’s great times at the minute, but I’ve only played 15 or 20 games on the spin without getting injured. It’s lovely to be part of the club. When the manager spoke to me, he said he had big ambitions and was going to target big names.
“He wants to get this club back to where it belongs, which is back challenging for European places and Champions League places. So the future is looking bright.”
This was Owen’s first appearance in a North East derby at St James’s Park and he was delighted to make a match-winning contribution. He said: “It’s great to win the derby and great to score in it. We wanted to send the fans home happy and hopefully we have done that.
“I was a little fortunate with the second one. I was going to place it, then Joey (Barton) planted a seed of doubt in my mind. He said blast it straight and he (Gordon) will go early. I tried to blast it straight but it went too low, but it squeaked in. When you are confident, things like that go right for you. I’m obviously very happy it squeaked in.
“I wouldn’t like to say that everything is great because I’ve only played 15 or 20 games on the spin, and yet I suppose it’s the best time that I’ve had here. I’ve been here nearly three years now and I want to play a full season without picking up any injuries. I’ve been on a great little run and I wish the season could continue. It fills everyone with optimism for the future.’’
The manager has said he wants me to stay and that the club will be getting in touch