Manchester United’s Owen Hargreaves is set to (finally) make an appearance for the reserves Thursday night v Burnley. It looks as if the Canadian born midfielder has yet to book a summer holiday somewhere warm as he still holds realistic ambitions to be in wintry South Africa with the England squad this summer (from his mouth to God’s ears).
Hargreaves’ comeback has been much looked at, much talked about and highly analyzed on EPL Talk over the past few months as eager England and Manchester United fans continue to hope for good news concerning his fitness. As a supporter for both of the aforementioned teams, Hargreaves is an extremely important player to me personally.
He’s a big match, big tournament kind of player with loads of European and International experience. He is just the type of player to slow down or break up a potent attack from a country such as Spain, Brazil or Argentina, who England could possibly meet in the later stages of the World Cup. He’s also a solid passer with poise who rarely sprays a ball in the wrong direction. Don’t take my word for it though, see under England’s 2006 World Cup campaign and more specifically, the semi-final match v Portugal – where, although England lost, Hargreaves was epic, tireless and his work rate was unmatched by anyone on the pitch.
When last Manchester United lifted the Champions League trophy in 2008, Hargreaves was also arguably United’s best player over the course of the evening. His appearance on the right side of midfield allowed him to serve meaningful crosses into the box for United’s attacking front while helping United win the midfield battle. He scored his penalty for United that night (and was the only England player to score his pen in that semi final loss to Portugal) on way to lifting the trophy. His battle with injury has been well documented and my hopes are that the worst days are in the past.
Hargreaves is still only 29 and can easily play another five or six years at top level. It gives me hope that he’s not ruling himself out of the World Cup this summer just yet. Although he realizes he’s going to have to progress quick, the fact that he remains positive and continues to train relentlessly to reach match fitness, gives me belief that he knows in his mind he’s got a realistic shot.
I’ve got a good feeling about Hargreaves. I feel like he’s taken his time, rehabbed and trained the right way and hasn’t forced the issue. Although I won’t be able to watch the reserve match tonight, I’ll anxiously be awaiting the match report and I’m hoping for at least a solid 45 minutes.