Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes that Liverpool halted Michael Owen’s potential as a footballer, suggesting that the Anfield club played the forward too often without allowing him to develop technically.
The Stoke striker joined the Red Devils in 2009 after his contract at Newcastle expired but his three-year spell at Old Trafford was dogged by injury problems.
And the United manager feels that the 32-year-old could have been a better player had he been given the chance to develop as a player without the demands of constant games at Anfield early in his career.
“You can play too much football, particularly young players growing and developing physically,” he told reporters.
“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.”
The former Liverpool fan favourite scored 118 goals in just 216 league games at Anfield, yet managed just 31 Premier League games in three years for Ferguson’s side.
Ferguson used the 1997 World Youth Championship in Malaysia as an example of pressure put on Owen’s shoulders as a 17-year-old, telling The Sun: “When the England youth team played in that tournament in Malaysia we had two players in the tournament at the same time, [John] Curtis and [Ronnie] Wallwork.
“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.”