Now, this might not go down too well down Anfield Way. Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has voiced his frustration and disappointment at the way Michael Owen’s potential was managed by Liverpool – claiming the Reds overplayed the prolific poacher and thereby stunted his ascendancy to become one the game’s greats.
Owen – who bagged 40 goals for England – has certainly been beset by injuries throughout his career and never quite joined the likes of Ronaldinho, Zinedine Zidane and big-boned Ronaldo at the top table of his generation’s talents.
Delivering his controversial hunch on why that was, Fergie said: “You can play too much football, particularly young players growing and developing physically. 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.”
Looking back on the Stoke forward’s exemplary appearance figures of yesteryear there are certainly some remarkable stats to be found. Most notably, after setting France 98 alight, Owen returned to play 40 games for Liverpool – all that whilst still at the age of just 18. Not exactly bedding the youngster in gently to the rigour of one of the world’s most demanding leagues.
Alluding to Owen’s somewhat unversatile status on the pitch, Fergie added: “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.”
What do you think? Is Ferguson talking cobblers and excusing his own inability to get the best out of Owen during his woefully disappointing stint at Old Trafford or is the old owl serving up some wisdom that Liverpool should take heed off – especially with 17-year-old Raheem Sterling pinning down a regular place in the starting eleven?