Tag Owen Hargreaves

Tag Owen Hargreaves

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.

Hargreaves returns as United check out Toure

November 12, 2009 Tags: , Shorts 3 comments

As Manchester United’s Owen Hargreaves prepares to return to first team action – probably in early December – manager Sir Alex Ferguson is looking at alternatives, should the Canadian-born midfielder’s fitness fail again. Barcelona’s Yaya Touré reportedly tops the manager’s January shopping the list.

Meanwhile Hargreaves, who has missed the past 14 months following operations on both knees in the United States, says he can’t wait to return.

“It will be an amazing feeling to run out at Old Trafford again. I’ll be so excited I’ll probably pass out,” Hargreaves told the Daily Mirror.

“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, who suffered from career-threatening patella tendonitis in both knees, joined the club with an injury that became worse as the former Bayern Munich man played for United.

“The last year has been difficult. As an athlete you think you are invincible,” he added.

“You don’t think something of this magnitude and seriousness will happen. I obviously had the problem when I came to Manchester United from Germany in 2007 and we tried to manage it.

“Nothing really seemed to work, despite being available for the big games at the end of the first season.

“I came back for the next season a week early to try to sort the problem out but it just didn’t work. My last game was Chelsea away last season and I probably shouldn’t have played.

“I struggled to drive my car for three days after that match. I knew something was very wrong.”

Meanwhile Touré’s agent, Dimitri Seluk, says several of Europe’s leading teams want to sign the Ivory Coast international. Seluk, probably angling for a new contract at Barcelona, says there is no chance his client will join Manchester City. Arsenal is also interested in the player, according to reports.

“If Barca do not want Yaya then I can name eight other clubs, some of the biggest in the world, that are interested in signing him,” Seluk said.

“One thing I can say though is that if he does leave Barca he will not go to Manchester City because he will sign for a bigger club.”

Hargeaves adds to Fergie’s options

October 8, 2009 Tags: Opinion 1 comment

In the 13 months since Owen Hargreaves last played for Manchester United the midfielder – having undergone operations both knees – has worked patiently towards a long-overdue return. After returning to training at Carrington in September, the player can now put months of rehabilitation behind him with a first team return in sight.

Many believed that it would never happen, including at times the England international himself. Having been diagnosed with severe tendinitis in both knees many observers felt that the Canada-born player would struggle to ever make a return to football, let alone at the top level.

Initially believing rest would cure the problem, Hargreaves eventually travelled to world-famous surgeon Dr. Richard Steadman for a diagnosis. Steadman has treated Ruud van Nistelerooy and Roy Keane among others.

“Going to Colorado and getting the diagnosis from Dr Steadman was a dark day,” Hargreaves told the Manchester Evening News.

“When I got to the Vale clinic he said ‘I have rarely ever seen a tendon look like that in my 35 years of working’. It was hard to take because this was coming from a guy who was 72 years old and had seen a lot of knees.

“But it was refreshing in some ways because I had received so many contradicting opinions about what was actually wrong with my knees.

“Dr Steadman explained I had an extreme form of tendonitis. Him explaining to me what I had after having the symptoms he was describing for so long it all finally made sense. It was a dark day but it was a relief because I realised I could then get on with things and deal with them.”

Hargreaves’ condition, patellar tendonitis – often refered to as ‘jumper’s knee’ – arises when the tendon attaching the knee-cap to the shin bone, and the tissues that surround it, become inflamed and irritated. This is usually due to overuse. The problem being compounded following a broken leg in 2006 while at Bayern Munich, leading to muscle atrophy and added stress on the knee.

“All the force, instead of going through the muscle went through the tendon. I had a slight twinge in my knee, we did some sprint training one day, something just went, and I didn’t know what it was,” said Hargreaves.

“My knee almost locked and I couldn’t do anything. I was told to rest and I did. Then the transfer to United went through. I had the medical here and they could see I had some slight trouble but it was figured with time it would get better.

“A normal person if something hurts you just stop but for me I don’t have that choice. If it hurts I think I can play through it. That’s what I did but it was only making things much much worse.

Hargreaves managed 25 starts in his first season and a bit at Old Trafford, including the 2008 Champions League final in which many believed he put in a man-of-the-match performance. But in between matches Hargreaves suffered with increasing amounts of pain and inflammation in the knee, leading to the meeting with Steadman and surgery.

“I was a bit negative that day and maybe the day after my first surgery on the left knee which was the worst of the two tendons. I was down and in a lot of pain and I thought ‘why me?’ But all those self-defeating things I tried to leave them behind and focus on getting better every day,” said Hargreaves.

“When you have such a long term injury it is difficult having to see your team-mates going out every day training and playing

“It is tough to be confronted by it every day when you are not fit. It was better off being in a tiny ski village with only 2,000 people and focusing on rehab. All I did was eat, sleep and train. It was a blessing being there.”

Now back in Manchester Hargreaves says that although he missed a year at his peak he intends to come back stronger, with injury problems firmly behind him. For United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Hargreaves represents an outstanding addition to a squad still lacking a defensive midfielder.

In the midfielder’s absence Darren Fletcher has taken on an important role as United’s destroyer. Even so, Hargreaves – fit and back to his very best – will walk back into United’s engine-room and place in Fabio Capello’s England World Cup squad too.

“Part of the problem for me was my competitiveness,” Hargreaves added.

“I was new to Manchester United and they had spent a lot of time, energy and money in getting me from Bayern Munich. I came with the symptoms but everyone said don’t worry it will go and so I always tried to be available. But playing on it made it worse.”

It’s just the kind of determination that has helped Hargreaves regain fitness from a career threatening injury. More importantly, Hargreaves will to succeed will be vital to United this season.

Hargreaves close to return

September 30, 2009 Tags: Shorts No comments

Owen Hargreaves, the Manchester United midfielder who has not appeared for the club in over a year, will begin training within two weeks, according to manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Hargreaves, included in United’s Champions League squad, returned to the UK from treatment in the United States on 23 September.

The 28-year-old England midfielder underwent surgery on both knees in the United States to resolve ongoing tendonitis, which has threatened to end the former Bayern Munich midfielder’s career.

“We’ll probably get him into training in 10 days and he should be back at the start of November,” said Ferguson in his pre-match press conference ahead of tonight’s Champions League Group B match against VfL Wolfsburg.

“We will take our time because the important thing is to get him playing to the right level. We are in dialogue with him all the time and the physio who was doing his rehabilitation over in America.

“It means we can jointly understand all the treatments and rehabilitation he has been doing.”

Hargreaves has made only 25 appearances for the club since joining United in a £17 million deal, July 2007. He last played for the team in United’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea in September last year.

Hargreaves nears United return

September 12, 2009 Tags: Shorts No comments

Owen Hargreaves returns to training at Carrington on September 23 and should be available to play in United’s final three Champions League group games. Such is the confidence that United’s staff have in the Canadian-born midfielder’s fitness that Hargreaves has been given a Champions League squad number and earmarked for a return on November 3 against CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford.

“We had difficulty what we should do about Owen Hargreaves whether to put him in the 25,” said the United manager.

“It was Owen or Zoran or Ritchie de Laet. It was a dilemma. But we came down on the side of Hargreaves because having taken the medical advice we think he will be available for the last three Champions League games,” said Sir Alex Ferguson on the perrenially injured midfielder.

“In that respect it is the time when we would want to push him a bit. He is also a versatile player who can perform in so many positions.

“He could be a very important player for us at that time of the season.”

Hargreaves has been out of action for close to a full year and has only started 25 matches for United since transferring from Bayern Munich in an £18 million dea during the summer of 2007l. The England international has undergone operations on both knees in a final attempt to cure persistent tendonitis.

Should Hargreave’s comeback fail this time his future career at United must be placed in doubt. The midfielder may also struggle to get back in the team, even if fit, with Darren Fletcher currently in superb form.

Hargreaves returns to training

August 28, 2009 Tags: Shorts No comments

Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves will return to Old Trafford from long term rehabilitation in the United States on September 23, according to the club. Hargreaves, who hasn’t played for United in over a year, had operations on both knees to cure a long term tendinitis problem that has put his career at risk. Although no date has been set for the player’s return to the team, the news is some light at the end of the tunnel for a player who has appeared just 25 times for the club since his £18 million move from Bayern Munich over two years ago.

Hargreaves’ return is “a great addition to us,” manager Sir Alex Ferguson told ManUtd.com. “We’re in dialogue all the time with Owen and the physio who’s conducting his rehabilitation in America.”

“He’ll come with Owen for a week for the change-over so we can jointly understand the treatment and rehabilitation he’s been doing. That’s straightforward. The difficulty is getting him back into football work. I say difficult because we’ve not seen him all this time. We’re relying on information we get from the States. We’re certain that his fitness work will be good, we just have to gauge the right time to bring him into football training. You don’t have a player out for a year and then just throw him straight into the fire.

“The important thing is to get him back playing to his level, which is a very good level.”

Hargreaves: over and out

June 3, 2009 Tags: Opinion 7 comments

It is fair to say that the protracted acquisition of Owen Hargreaves at great expense from Bayern Munich in the summer of 2007 has been an unmitigated disaster. A disaster that just got worst with the news that the Canadian-English international will not now play again for United until January 2010. With the latest setback to Hargreaves’ United career questions must now be raised about whether he will ever play for the club again. It poses a serious dilemma for Sir Alex Ferguson, who needs to rebuild confidence in a midfield that was so badly exposed by Barcelona in the Champions League final. Should Sir Alex cut and run by offloading Hargreaves when he’s finally fit and bringing in new blood, or stick it out and hope that when the player finally returns he will be as good as ever?

With the departure of Roy Keane, United have lacked a true tough-tackling defensive midfielder. This much is true even with the rise in performance this season of Michael Carrick, whose positional sense and effective passing has been instrumental to United’s success. But for the sake of balance Ferguson pursued Hargreaves for two summers, until Munich finally gave in and United’s board handed over the best part of £20 million. Despite some criticism that Hargreaves plays in the same position as Carrick, the move was broadly right. Hargreaves adds something different to United’s squad. Indeed, if the midfielder had been fit, his energy and ability to break up play may have made some difference in the Champions League final.

Now Ferguson must decide whether, for the same reasons of squad balance, he needs to spend big this summer on a tough-tackling defensive midfielder to compliment the abilities of Darren Fletcher, Anderson and the aforementioned Carrick. But this task wont be easy or cheap. Top-class defensive midfielders can be counted on the fingers of one hand and the price to United would surely be in excess of £20 million – the fee that Real Madrid paid for Portsmouth’s former Chelsea and Arsenal reserve Lassana Diarra.

Of course the same criticisms apply to any new acquisition as they did to that of Hargreaves in the first place. Fletcher, Anderson and Carrick have all occupied deep lying midfield slots in the past season. Is there value to the squad in having yet another player in that position? This argument is even more pointed when we think about the experience against Barcelona in Rome, where Barcelona’s ability to keep the ball was so fundamentally destructive to United’s hopes. While Carrick and Paul Scholes, when he plays, rarely give away the ball, the same cannot be said of Fletcher, Anderson and to some extent Giggs. Perhaps Ferguson would be better spending £20-£30 million on a creative midfielder who might stand-up to the class of Andreas Iniesta or Xavi Hernandez, who so embarrassed United in the Champions League final?