Newcastle have hit back at their former striker Michael Owen after he suggested they were a "poor team" on Twitter.
Owen recently signed a one-year contract extension at Manchester United despite making just 11 Premier League appearances last season and, after facing criticism, wrote: "Prefer playing less often in a top team than every game in a poor team. Been there a[nd] didn't enjoy it."
With Owen having only represented Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle prior to his move to Old Trafford in 2009, the comments have been assumed to be in reference to his four-year stay at St James' Park.
Having made the £16 million move from Madrid, Owen scored 26 goals in 58 appearances for the Magpies but was unable to steer the club clear of relegation at the end of the 2008-09 season.
Former Newcastle co-owner Freddy Shepherd said in the Daily Express: "We might have been a poor team, but we made him a rich man. It works out at around £500,000 for every game in a Newcastle shirt. Poor? Well, he wasn't poorer for it. He spent more time ferrying between Cheshire and Tyneside in his £3.5 million helicopter."
Newcastle's managing director, Derek Llambias, added: "Under Kevin Keegan's management he was offered a one-year extension at £140,000 a week, which he did not take. He was already on £133,000. His time here cost £40-odd million, about £1.3 million per goal."