Former Newcastle striker Michael Owen has insisted Alan Shearer was not to blame for the club’s relegation in 2009. Owen added: “It was a steady progression over a period of time more so than what Alan did. Everyone was really up for the fight when he came in. The enthusiasm was there and the crowd were up for it. Unfortunately, things just did not work the way we hoped.” Newcastle were ultimately relegated after a final day 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa in which Owen was only able to appear as a substitute because of a muscle injury. It proved to be his final game in a black and white shirt at the end of a four-year stay following his £16million switch from Real Madrid. Serious injuries severely limited the England international during his time on Tyneside, although he strongly refutes suggestions he simply did not care about the club’s plight. He said: “I was hurt and it is ridiculous to suggest anything else. I had a lot of pride. I wanted to do it for the fans and the friends I had made up there. We all wanted to. “As I was leaving soon after, I was an easy target. Whether it was myths about helicopters or me not living up there. Then it all goes into one pot and gives people the wrong impression. “I just felt I was an easy target by the end of my time.” Shearer, who was in charge for the final eight games of that season, and new director of football Joe Kinnear, who had presided over the club for a little more than six months earlier in the campaign, have had a very public difference of opinion over who was responsible for the Magpies’ demise. However, Owen, who has also been criticised for his contribution to a survival fight which came up short, is adamant a combination of factors was to blame. He told the Chronicle: “Certainly Alan Shearer was only in charge for a short period of time at the end. You certainly cannot blame him for us going down.” Press Association
Mike MandellMike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected] Latest Posts Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all) Bio MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020 Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020 ELLSWORTH — Dottie Cameron picks up a bat and softball in the corner of Ellsworth’s Katsiaficas Gymnasium. It’s time for fielding drills in one of the team’s first practices of the year, and the Eagles are ready to ease into it.Well, at least that’s what they think.“I’m going to hit this one pretty soft,” Cameron says.The “ping” of her aluminum bat sounds. The ball rips toward the left side of the infield and gets past Ellsworth’s infielders with ease.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder text“Just kidding, I guess,” she says as she laughs. “That wasn’t soft at all.”She does it over and over again. Whether they’re hit straight at the infielders or toward the gaps, the balls are flying off the bat at lightning speed. That’s how Cameron likes it.“Practice like you play,” she tells the girls. “This is what you’ll see when the games start, and we’re almost there.”Two weeks from today, the Ellsworth softball team will take the field for its first regular-season game with Cameron as its head coach. She had previously been an assistant under Rick Roberts, who stepped down from the team in November.“I would say I coach in a very different way than Rick Roberts,” Cameron said. “With Rick, he was everybody’s friend. That’s not to say I’m not, but I’m just more intense. I just bring my energy to the table, and that’s my way of coaching and getting the best out of these players.”Cameron was the top candidate to take the job from the moment Roberts decided he would no longer coach the team. He recommended her for the job soon after informing Ellsworth of his decision, and Cameron obliged.So far, Ellsworth players have noticed a few differences in the buildup to the season. For one, the team’s pitching staff is no longer at a disadvantage because they can participate in Roberts’ pitching clinics during the fall and winter months. Maine Principals’ Association rules forbid such activities.Cameron, originally from South Plainfield, N.J., at Husson University in college. After graduating from Husson in 2012, she then spent one year as an assistant there in 2013 before eventually joining Roberts’ staff in Ellsworth.“I think she’s more hands-on than coach Rick was,” catcher Callie Hammer said. “It’s definitely different going from one coach to another, but the fact that she has that passion for the game and played here is something we look up to.”After a down year two seasons ago, Ellsworth turned things around and went 12-6 in 2016. This year’s team has a lot of returning talent around the infield and at the plate, and the potential is there for the team to score a lot of runs.On the mound, the Eagles will have to make up for the loss of standout pitcher Kate Whitney, the team’s No. 1 arm all season. One pitcher on whom the Eagles will be relying on this year is Sammy Mason. Mason hasn’t played in three years, but being able to work with Roberts has helped.“It’s been a bit tough for me to get back into things because I’m used to playing tennis in the spring, but being able to work with both coaches has helped,” Mason said. “I’ve had to shake off some rust and remember some of my pitches, but now that things are getting going, I’d say it’s a lot easier.”Ellsworth’s early practices didn’t truly kick off until Monday. The team spent a few days in the classroom rather than the gym late last week to learn about Cameron’s vision for the team. She wants to emphasize conditioning. She wants her players to match her own intensity. Above all, though, she wants to get the most out of each one of them.“This is a team that has a lot of room to be great, and I think the girls are all buying in,” Cameron said. “I have a feeling this team is going to surprise some people. Our ceiling is high, and we’re hungry and ready to win.”Correction: The original version of this story said Dottie Cameron played high school softball in Ellsworth. She played at South Plainfield High School in New Jersey.