Monday, August 03, 2009 by Paul Grech
Increasingly, every time Alex Ferguson talks about Liverpool it is to put a negative slant to something that was said or done. It is, I guess, a form of praise as it show that he sees us as a threat.
That said, there is an element of truth in his latest rant where he implies that Liverpool should have taken better care of Michael Owen when he first made it into the first team.
With one significant difference. Whilst Ferguson indicated that he would have used Owen more sparingly after the Under 20 World Cup in 1997, what Liverpool should have done was do their best to stop him from making that trip with England in the first place.
Traditionally, Liverpool have always been more than accomodating with international sides. Whereas Ferguson invented every excuse possible to prevent Ryan Giggs for turning out for Wales, Liverpool allowed a still recovering Jamie Redknapp to play in Euro 98 where he promptly re-injured himself and never fully recovered.
Even recently, Liverpool have been overly liberal. Typical is the ease with which the likes of Javier Mascherano and Ryan Babel were allowed to go to the Olympics, something that screwed up their pre-season and arguably, their whole season. Or Emiliano Insua who was freed up for the South American Under 20 championships when he was starting to establish himself in the side.
At least this summer we have seen a shift in that trend. Martin Kelly was supposed to join up with the England U19 side for the European Championship but instead opted to go with the first team's pre-season training camp. It was a sensible move: with Sami Hyppia gone there was an excellent opportunity for him to make his mark in the first team.
Of course it could be argued that he missed out on the opportunity of being crowned European champion, seeing how well England eventually did, yet on the other hand he could have injured himself as Kristian Nemeth did last season, an injury that effectively wiped out the Hungarian striker's season.
Kelly ultimately did what is best for his Liverpool career which is what really matters. Hopefully, it is the start of a new approach which would mean that Ferguson can stop worrying on the futures of Liverpool's young players.