Anyone who has played football regularly, especially those who did so at a professional level, should have a great degree of sympathy with the plight of Owen Hargreaves.
To have the best years of your career taken from you through serious injury is every player's worst nightmare. The treatment room is a very lonely place to be. Sure, you still get to see your team-mates and other colleagues at the club most days, but you are confined to looking on with envy at everyone enjoying themselves on the training pitch. Watching your team play away matches on the TV at home can be downright torture, too.
Hargreaves was in that position for far longer than most other players, so you can only imagine what he must have gone through. But to speak out against his former employers, criticising their medical staff so soon after leaving for their local rivals was a bad idea. I certainly don't remember him giving voice to him feeling like a "guinea pig" when he was on their wage bill.
In all fairness, he was only answering questions being put to him by journalists. This was not a premeditated attack. He spoke of how hard the medical team at United worked to try and get him fit, and was finding faults in their methods rather than their intentions.
But, ultimately, the responsibility for the welfare of Owen Hargreaves lies with Owen Hargreaves. If he was really so bothered about the way United were dealing with his injuries then he could have sought other opinions elsewhere. He could have refused the injections and any other treatments he was being given.
On that infamous five-minute cameo he made against Wolves, he said he felt as though he could not say he was in no condition to play, that the pressure of the club, the crowd and his eagerness to play made him go against his better judgement, even though he knew his legs were not up to the task.
But did he really feel that he was being forced to play? The club had been targeting him for a long time before they finally signed him, and when they did it was for a huge fee and no doubt a big contract too. Would they really have risked such a valuable asset if there was any chance of doing further damage? I don't think so.
Hargreaves is a wonderful player, and if he can get back to his best then he will no doubt offer a lot to Manchester City and even England. He is, after all, only 30, and seems a consummate professional capable of taking the utmost care in his conditioning in order to extend his career. But after these comments, no matter how candid and honest, he will have lost a great deal of sympathy from many neutral observers.
When you are faced with the opportunity to play but do not feel 100 per cent fit, it is always a very difficult decision to make. Do you turn around to your gaffer and the rest of the team that you will have let them down, or risk aggravating the problem further, jeopardising your future fitness? It is a tough decision to make.
I was faced with such a dilemma during my time at United. I had been suffering from an ankle injury which had me in and out of the team for quite a while when the Champions League trip to Barcelona came up. I knew my ankle was bothering me, but how often was I going to get the chance to play against Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team' in front of 120,000 people?
I decided to play, but was not able to play anywhere near my best. Facing Romario, Hristo Stoichkov and co was enough of a challenge as it was, but not being at optimum strength made it doubly hard. I shouldhave come clean and told the manager I was not fit.
Ultimately, my ankle troubled me for the rest of my career, and I had to cut short playing at the top level at the age of 33 when I felt as though I still had what it took in all other aspects of my game to still do job for a while longer.