Sunday 22 April 2018

Ferguson hits back at medical team slur

Mark Ogden

Alex Ferguson has responded to claims by Owen Hargreaves that he felt like a "guinea pig" during three years of injury treatment at Manchester United by insisting there is "absolutely no chance" the club would allow substandard medical care of their players.

Hargreaves, now at Manchester City after being released from Old Trafford at the end of last season, also claimed his knee tendon felt as though it was "made of glass" following injections administered while a United player in an attempt to resolve a persistent tendinitis problem.

Having made his explosive comments after scoring on his City debut against Birmingham on Wednesday -- when he lasted beyond half-time in a competitive game for the first time since September 2008 -- Hargreaves made clear his dissatisfaction with his treatment at United.

But while discussions yesterday afternoon between Ferguson, United chief executive David Gill and club doctor Steve McNally steered clear of addressing the possibility of legal action as a result of Hargreaves's allegations, Ferguson made clear his anger at his former player's comments by issuing a robust defence of McNally and his medical team.

"Do you think Alex Ferguson would have a bad medical staff?" the United manager said. "Do you think I would allow that? Absolutely no chance. This club has to be successful and has to have the best people in the best positions in the club to be successful. That's what we've got.

"We have been trying to analyse all the stuff he (Hargreaves) has come out with. As far as I am concerned, my medical staff are one of the reasons why Manchester United have been so successful over the last few years.

"There is no doubt about that. We have fantastic medical and great sports science staff. Do you think we would have been successful if we didn't have an operation that was not 100pc and worked absolutely brilliantly?

"The doctors and sports scientists are fantastic. That is my opinion on Manchester United and that's more important than what anyone has got to say about it."


Although United had been made aware of Hargreaves's comments on Thursday, when the club declined to respond to the 30 year-old's accusations, it was not until yesterday that Ferguson, Gill and McNally were able to discuss and digest his accusations.

Patrick Stewart, United's in-house lawyer, is understood not to have been involved in those discussions, despite the criticism of the medical team.

Rather than take the step of launching legal proceedings against Hargreaves, United instead issued a statement outlining the club's confidence in, and support of them.

Because of medical confidentiality regulations, however, United did not outline the precise nature of Hargreaves' treatment and the injections which he alleges made his tendons feel as though they were "made of glass."

The statement said: "Manchester United is disappointed with Owen's remarks after the game on Wednesday. The club gave him the best possible care for three years and is as disappointed as anyone he was not able to play a part in the team's success. It (United) has shared all the medical records with Manchester City and is comfortable with the actions taken by its medical staff at each step of his many attempts at rehabilitation.

"United does not acknowledge any validity in the comments Owen is alleged to have made. Manchester United has some of the best sports medical staff in world sport, who have made a significant contribution to United's on-pitch success."

Hargreaves, who made just 39 appearances in four seasons for United after his £19m arrival from Bayern Munich in May 2007, completed a full training session with his City team-mates yesterday.

But with his comments coming swiftly after his impressive debut, City manager Roberto Mancini urged the former England midfielder to focus on the future and his fitness.

"For him now, it's important to play often and train without problems," Mancini said.

"The past is the past. I don't know the situation and what has happened with United. He knows better than me. He was unlucky as he had three or four injuries, but now it's important that there is calm about Owen.

"If everything is OK with his body, then maybe he can play against United in a few weeks. For the Premier League, he needs to play a few more (practice) games first."

Stoke City v Manchester United,

Live, ESPN, 5.30

Irish Independent

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