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Sayonara, adios, auf wiedersehen Owen Hargreaves

February 4, 2010 Tags: Opinion 6 comments

Owen Hargreaves’ ability to resurrect his career is in serious doubt after Sir Alex Ferguson left the Canadian-born midfielder out of his Champions League squad. It means that Hargreaves, who has not played for United since September 2008, can now only feature in Premier League matches for the rest of the season – if he returns at all.

Hargreaves returned to Manchester in September following two operations on his knee by the surgeon Dr. Richard Steadman in Denver, USA. The surgery, performed in a bid to cure the former-Bayern Munich player of persistent patella tendonitis, were widely regarded as successful.

Initially manager Sir Alex Ferguson pencilled in an autumn for Hargreaves and included the player in the club’s 25 man Champions League group stages squad. The player, who is now training part-time with the first team squad, lacks the confidence to return to full training according to Ferguson and there is now no date set for a return to action.

But the midfielder and his manager sounded optimistic of a return to action when he arrived at Carrington on 23 September last year.

“It will be an amazing feeling to run out at Old Trafford again. I’ll be so excited I’ll probably pass out,” Hargreaves said in September.

“I just want to be part of it again, to be available and healthy. I can’t wait to get involved.

“I want to be able to pull on the shirt and have an effect on games. I just want to compete in matches, work with the coaches to improve my game and become a better player.

“I want a good season to repay the faith shown in me by the United fans.”

Hargreaves continued absence is a blow both to club and country, with United missing the combative nature of the midfielder’s game, despite Darren Fletcher’s emergence as a genuine top-class talent.

Fabio Capello also had the midfielder in mind for a place in England’s 2010 FIFA World Cup squad but with 14 Premier League games available for Hargreaves to prove his fitness it remains a huge long-shot.

Hargreaves, named England’s player of the tournament in Germany fours years ago, started for United in the May 2008 Champions League win over Chelsea in Moscow.

But the midfielder’s long-term future at the club is in serious doubt, with a contract that ends in June 2011 and no sign that the club is set to negotiate new terms with the player. Hargreaves has started just 25 games for United since a summer 2007 £19 million move from Bayern.

Such is the dismay with Hargreaves’ slow progress that it is even now conceivable that the club will choose to cut its losses on the player, pay off the remaining year of his contract and allow the 29-year-old to find a new club or retire.

Hargreaves is replaced in the Champions League party by Belgian defender Ritchie de Laet, who started against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham during the recent defensive injury crisis.

Also added is Mame Biram Diouf, the Senegalese striker signed from Norwegian outfit Molde. Diouf, who scored on his début last month, has hit the net four times in recent reserve outings.

6 comments

vlad - February 4, 2010 Reply

Rather harsh on Owen Hargreaves, gentlemen.
He’s been a real servant to the club when on form, we definitely missed him against Barcelona.

Why do you think that SAF won’t play him in the quarter-finals and the semis? Not so optimistic about United’s progress in the CL, eh?
Or is there some UEFA rule that forbids changing players later on?
Ritchie de Laet has been awful against Fulham.

Ron B - February 4, 2010 Reply

Auf wiedersehen is the right word..lol

Tom - February 4, 2010 Reply

Vlad – The players included in this squad are the only ones who can be used in the Champions League, and UEFA do not allow changing it, except once in January (because of the transfer window).
We’re gonna see the same rule implemented in the league next season, so we’ll only be allowed to use 25 players in the first team squad in the Premiership.
Although if it works on the same basis as the the Spanish league (and if my understanding of their rules is correct) we’ll still be able to use reserve players, with u18s the only ones not able to play in the league.

chinaski - February 4, 2010 Reply

Ron B. Auf wiedersehen is two words. I want curly hair too.

Dani - February 4, 2010 Reply

Sad to hear he won’t be playing the CL, but I hope he plays at the league. He’ll pull a Solskjaer, I believe!

Bill - February 4, 2010 Reply

Sad to see this, interesting after years and years of chasing Hargreaves, maybe he was never going to fulfill his potential for the Reds. The same goes for Berbatov, United pursued him for a long while, and at the moment it doesn’t seem that was worth all the effort either.

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