Ferguson: Reds curbed Owen potential

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes Liverpool's mismanagement of Michael Owen caused him to not achieve his full potential.

Football News: Michael Owen.
By ESPNSTAR.com staff

Owen took his place as an England international in the 1998 World Cup as a 17-year-old and shone with a wonder goal against Argentina. He went on to lead Liverpool to a treble of the UEFA Cup (now known as the Europa League), FA Cup and the Carling Cup in 2001, and won the Ballon d'Or - the first Englishman to do so since Kevin Keegan in 1979.

However, his career went on a decline after an injury nightmare in 2004 which saw him move to Real Madrid before making his way to Newcastle, where he spent an entire season out due to another knee injury.

Ferguson, who signed Owen as a free agent after the player's contract with Newcastle ended in 2009, felt that Liverpool were partly to blame for Owen's injuries because they over-used him when he was young and did not concentrate on developing him technically.

The United manager lamented that 

"You can play too much football, particularly young players growing and developing physically," Ferguson was quoted as saying on the Daily Mail.

"That's exactly what happened with Michael. He would've been a far better player if he'd been allowed to improve technically and develop rather than playing all the time."

Ferguson cited the season where Owen broke through the Liverpool ranks as an example - the striker represented the England youth side in the World Youth Championships before making 44 first-team appearances in the season. Owen went on to play in the 1998 World Cup and then made another 40 appearances for Liverpool the season after.

"When the England youth team played in that tournament in Malaysia we had two players in the tournament at the same time, Curtis and Wallwork," added Ferguson.

"We gave them a month's rest after they came back from the tournament but Liverpool put Owen right back in the first team.

"And then the following season he played in the World Cup so he never had a summer break.

"I don't think he was allowed to develop technically, as he himself said to me when I discussed it with him.

"It's maybe a bit churlish to say that's the reason he wasn't better. I think he would have been better technically but he was still a fantastic player."

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