Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has criticised Liverpool for their use of Michael Owen as a junior player.
The 32-year-old spent three-years at Old Trafford, signing for the Red Devils in 2009 but playing a limited number of games during his spell with the club.
Capped 89-times by England, Owen burst onto the scene at Liverpool, making his debut for the Merseyside giants in 1996 before spending eight-years as a professional with the Reds.
However, the striker’s career has been plagued by injuries, and Ferguson believes his former striker’s development was hindered by the amount he played as a teenager at Anfield.
“You can play too much football, particularly young players growing and developing physically,” Ferguson is quoted as saying in The Sun, according to 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 continued to criticise Liverpool in astonishing rant, questioning the Reds’ use of Owen after the FIFA World Youth Championship in Malaysia in 1997.
The striker played 44 games in all competitions after the summer tournament, and then went on to represent the Three Lions at the 1998 World Cup in France.
“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. We gave them a month’s rest after they came back from the tournament but Liverpool put Owen right back in the first team,” the Manchester United manager continued.
“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.”
Owen was released by Manchester United in the summer, but signed for Stoke City to prolong his career in the Premier League.