Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughOwen Hargreaves: We Can Rebuild Him, We Have The Technology - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Owen Hargreaves: We Can Rebuild Him, We Have The Technology - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Owen Hargreaves: We Can Rebuild Him, We Have The Technology

In what would be one of perhaps the most surprising moves of this transfer window, given its late emergence and relative value, Owen Hargreaves has been linked with a switch to the blue half of Manchester. Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, is keen to recruit a covering player to ensure that Nigel De Jong does not have to carry the brunt of the effort this season, given their participation in the Champions League. If Hargreaves were to join, he would most likely be City’s fourth choice defensive midfielder, behind De Jong, Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure. However, with four competitions to compete for, Mancini will be keen to rotate his squad.

After spending much of the past few weeks training with West Bromwich Albion, the assumption was that Hargreaves would be signing with the Baggies, particularly after he passed their stringent medical examinations. However the Canadian born midfielder chose to hold out for a bigger club and City appear to have vindicated that decision. While it is true that Hargreaves would have been an automatic choice, when fit, at the Hawthorns, the lure of Champions League football and perhaps a lucrative pay packet at Man City have proved decisive.

Some sections of fans have been quick to post on social networking sites that Hargreaves has shown a lack of ambition in choosing what will most likely be less game time at Man City. Others in the media and neutral fans have pointed towards the financial might of Man City as the reasoning behind Hargreaves’ decision. However, this is the same player who offered to play for Manchester United for free so desperate was he to prove his worth and repay them for their investment.

With only 18 appearances in four years at United, Hargreaves must be regarded as a bad buy, but oddly enough not based on ability. When he did play, Hargreaves was composed at the heart of United’s midfield and also at right back and right wing. Indeed it was his free kick against Arsenal at Old Trafford in April 2008 that completed a remarkable comeback that tilted the title race in United’s favour. The following year, Manchester United missed his energy and winning skills against the dominance of Barcelona’s Xavi and Iniesta. With Fletcher and Hargreaves available for that Champions League Final, it’s arguable that the result may have been much different. It is doubtful whether even Hargreaves would have had much of an impact in last season’s Final though, such has been the progression of the Spanish champions.

England have also missed the former Bayern Munich player badly too. It is unlikely that Mesut Ozil would have skipped so lightly past a fully fit Hargreaves last summer in South Africa, in the way that he did Gareth Barry. His tactical awareness in the holding role and terrier-like approach to regaining possession were exactly what a sluggish English side needed to spark them to life in South Africa, in much the same way that the midfielder took the 2006 World Cup by storm, ending up with the England Fans’ Best Player Award. Not bad for a man who is the only player to have ever played for England without having previously lived in the United Kingdom. He is also one of only two English players to have won a Champions League medal, the other being Steve McManaman at Real Madrid, whilst at a non-English club. Champions League experience of that calibre is something that will be vital to Mancini’s squad.

Having suffered injury setback after setback, the rumour mill went into overdrive towards the end of last season, when Alex Ferguson announced that Hargreaves would not be offered a new contract. The speculation mounted that Hargreaves was about to retire from the game altogether, no doubt fuelled by the world-renowned knee specialist Dr. Richard Steadman asserting that Hargreaves’ patella tendon injuries were the worst he’d seen in 35 years. However, this prompted two responses from the player, that are in keeping with his determined outlook. He offered to prove his worth to the manager by playing for free. When Ferguson refused this option, Hargreaves set about proving his worth to other clubs. He released a series of videos on YouTube showing himself completing training sessions in order to attract clubs previously scared off by his injury record. He also sought out Alex McKechnie, who helped save Shaquile O’Neal’s career for the LA Lakers, and set to work on intense 3 hours a day muscle “re-education” workouts. The result was so remarkable that it prompted Dr. Steadman to claim that Hargreaves’ knees could survive the impact of a jump from the Eiffel Tower.

These are not the actions of a man who lacks ambition. These are the actions of a man determined to compete at the highest level of the game once more. The vast majority would have bet against Hargreaves winning the Champions League with a German club. The vast majority would have bet against England fans not only accepting him, but voting him their best player at the 2006 World Cup. Who would have put money on him passing stringent medicals at both West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City?

Hargreaves can still cut it at the very top level. Don’t bet against him.

Damien Edgar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *