Saturday, 17th November, 2012
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes that Michael Owen would have been a far better striker had Liverpool not played him so much when he was younger.
Ferguson chose to give Mexican hitman Javier Hernandez an extended break throughout the summer and can now see the Red Devils reaping the rewards, with the 24-year-old firing in goals and changing games.
And the Manchester United manager thinks that a similar approach with Owen when he was younger would have worked and actually resulted in the England goal-getter turning into a better, more technically accomplished player.
Indeed, Ferguson pointed to when England’s youth team came back from a competition in Malaysia and he opted to give young hopefuls John Curtis and Ronnie Wallwork a month’s rest, while Liverpool instantly slotted Owen into their first team, giving the striker no time to recharge his batteries at all.
The legendary boss also said Owen himself concurred with his assessment when he played for Manchester United, in a spell which finished at the end of last season, when the striker’s contract was not renewed.
"It’s an issue particularly with young players who are growing and developing physically", Ferguson told his club’s official site.
"I think that’s exactly what happened with Michael. He would have been a far better player if he had been allowed to improve technically and develop himself as a younger player rather than playing all the time", continued the Scot, expanding upon his point.
"England’s youth team played in a tournament in Malaysia one year and we had two players in the team at that time – [John] Curtis and [Ronnie] Wallwork – and we gave them a month’s rest when they came back.
"Liverpool put Michael straight in the first team, and the following year he was at the World Cup. So he never had a summer break.
"I also don’t think he was allowed to develop technically, as he said to me himself when I discussed it with him. That’s what I always felt about him. You have young players who are developing and you have to consider when you get a rest.
"There’s only one time they can develop physically and that is in the summer. You’re not going to develop in the middle of winter."
Ferguson did concede though that Owen, who also turned out for Real Madrid and Newcastle United, and is now plying his trade at Stoke City, became a great player.
"Michael was a great player anyway, so it’s maybe a bit churlish to say that is the reason he wasn’t better or something like that.
"I think he would have been better technically, but he was still a fantastic player."
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