Alex Ferguson defends Manchester United medics over Owen Hargreaves treatment

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The Independent Online

Sir Alex Ferguson has launched a vigorous defence of Manchester United's medical team after former midfielder Owen Hargreaves slated the treatment he received during four injury-plagued seasons at Old Trafford.

Hargreaves, who made an outstanding goalscoring debut for rivals Manchester City on Wednesday night, claimed he felt like a "guinea pig" as he was given several injections which he believes actually hindered his recovery from a tendinitis problem that first surfaced during his time at Bayern Munich.

United are considering a formal response, which is expected to be released later today.

But Ferguson is adamant any criticism of his back-room team is completely without foundation.

"We are trying to analyse all the stuff he has said and there will be a statement later to address that," Ferguson said.

"As far as I am concerned my medical staff is one of the main reasons why we have been so successful over the last few years.

"Do you think we would be successful if they were not 100% brilliant? Our doctor and his five physios are fantastic - that is my opinion and that is more important than what anyone else has to say about it."

Hargreaves underwent surgery on both knees during the 2008-09 season.

Following the operations, Hargreaves played just six minutes of first-team football as he battled to regain fitness and was eventually released by United in the summer.

The 30-year-old claimed the medical treatment he received at United did more harm than good.

"I received some injections but my tendon was never the same," he said.

"After the injections, I tried to get back on my feet and they said my tendon was good, but it felt like I was made out of glass.

"With my tendon injury, I've had to be a guinea pig for a lot of these treatments. All the people there [at United] are lovely and everybody tries their best, but at times you come to a certain point where you need to make a decision.

"I wanted to play. Everyone wanted me to play, so it's not really an option to say, 'sit it out and rest for six months'. With hindsight it's a lot easier, but I wish I had not had the injections."

Amazingly, three weeks after signing for City in a shock move shortly before the transfer window closed, Hargreaves was fit enough to play almost an hour in the Blues' Carling Cup win over Birmingham on Wednesday.

He even crowned the occasion with a goal, something he only managed twice during his entire time at Old Trafford.

City manager Roberto Mancini opted to tread a delicate path this morning, although he confirmed Hargreaves is now pain free.

"There are no problems, apart from a bit of tiredness," Mancini said.

"He has been out for two years, which is a long period. He has worked hard for the last six months in Canada. And I hope it has solved all his problems.

"I don't think they (United) got it wrong. I just hope he will be lucky in the next two years.

"After something like this, it can happen that after one or two games he might have a problem with his ankle or hamstring or something.

"But I remember him very well when he played for United and Bayern. He was an incredible midfielder.

"United paid £17million for him and he is 30 years old. On top form he is one of the best midfielders in Europe."

Hargreaves will not be considered for tomorrow's Premier League encounter with Everton at the Etihad Stadium and is ineligible for Tuesday's Champions League trip to former club Bayern Munich.

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