“Because that was my career.”
Owen Hargreaves has admitted he was ‘surprised’ by Alex Ferguson’s criticism of him and says he had a ‘good chat’ with the former Manchester United manager about it on the phone.
Hargreaves joined United in 2007 after a successful seven-year spell with Bayern Munich, where he won four Bundesliga titles and a Champions League.
The former England international played 34 times in his first season at Old Trafford, and started the 2008 Champions League in Moscow, which United won on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Chelsea after extra-time.
Alex Ferguson called Owen Hargreaves deal a ‘disaster’
However, Hargreaves’ time at United was plagued by injuries and he played just five times in three seasons between 2008 and 2011 before leaving the club when his contract expired.
Hargreaves subsequently joined Manchester City but made just four appearances during the 2011-12 season before hanging up his boots.
Ferguson was critical of the 42-time England international in his second autobiography, released in 2013, writing: “David Gill worked hard on the deal with Bayern. I met Owen’s agent at the World Cup final in Berlin. Nice man, a lawyer. I told him we could develop Hargreaves at United. It turned out to be a disaster.
“Owen had no confidence in himself whatsoever. He didn’t show nearly enough determination to overcome his physical difficulties, for my liking. I saw him opt for the easy choice too often in terms of training. He was one of the most disappointing signings of my career.”
Ferguson later added in the book: “When I signed him, there was something about him I didn’t like. The thing every good leader should have is an instinct. Mine said to me: ‘I don’t fancy this.’ When he came over to Old Trafford for the medical, I still had some indefinable doubt. He was very hail-fellow-well-met. Almost too nice.”
Hargreaves was critical of United after joining City, telling The Guardian the Red Devils had treated him like a ‘guinea pig’.
Owen Hargreaves on Alex Ferguson’s criticism of him: “It broke me more than it did him”
And speaking to the Manchester Evening News ahead of United’s Europa League final, Hargreaves revealed he had a ‘good chat’ with Ferguson about their differences.
“As much as it was disappointing for him not having me play – because when I was fit, he played me all the time,” said Hargreaves.
“I told him on the phone, I promised him, it broke me more than it did him. Because that was my career.”
Hargreaves went on to admit that he regrets not having been more direct with Ferguson instead of dealing with United’s medical staff, and while he said he was ‘surprised’ by Ferguson’s comments, he insists he did not join City out of spite.
“We had a good chat about it,” he added. “Obviously, it stays private. I was surprised by what he said. I don’t think it helps when you go and play for your rivals.
“Even though people think I went there to [spite], I didn’t. I bumped into David Platt in a restaurant in Alderley Edge, I didn’t have an agent, I did it all on my own. There were a lot of variables to it.
“But I guess he was disappointed in some things and me not playing as much as he would have hoped. I told him it upset me a lot more than it did him.”
Hargreaves also spoke about Ferguson’s criticism on BT Sport shortly after the book was released in 2013, which you can watch below: