It’s no longer new news, but it seems poor old Owen Hargreaves just can’t seem to get his knee problems sorted out as he faces YET ANOTHER setback in hopes he’ll soon reach full match fitness. What an incredibly psychologically taxing situation Hargreaves must be facing as he continually is forced to pick himself up off the ground and start over again as the footballing world seems to pass him by in the rear view.
As football fans, we all have certain players we gravitate to for one reason or another. You may have seen them play for a previous club and always wanted them to come play for your team. Maybe they play similar to the way you played – on a much lower level – when you laced up in better days. For me, Owen Hargreaves is one of those players that I’ve always connected with, that I’ve always liked that much more than other players on my club, and a player I’ve always looked for first or second on the team sheet.
Whether it’s my ongoing man crush on him, his tireless work rate as a defensive midfielder, his ability to pick out a stunning ball in the center of the pitch, or his ability to cross the ball from the wings, it’s safe to say his pain has definitely been passed on to me as I wonder when, if ever, he’ll represent England or Manchester United again.
As I witnessed Hargreaves take the field against Sunderland last season for all of a minute, I held that tiny bit of hope that this was in fact the beginning of some miraculous comeback that would see Hargreaves gain further match fitness and valuable rest over the summer, only to be chomping at the bit in United’s midfield come mid August. Hargreaves’ addition in United’s midfield adds numerous dimensions to an attack minded set up, or a more conservative approach on a European night. His experience playing in big matches, domestically, in Europe and Internationally, is a valuable resource when needed.
When United last conquered Europe, Hargreaves was arguably United’s best player on the night starting on the right side of midfield and providing service to United’s strikers from the wing, all while dealing with Chelsea’s Florent Malouda and Ashley Cole in his spare time. He smashed his spot kick home on way to United lifting the trophy over fellow English foes Chelsea, a night United supporters haven’t remotely forgotten.
His performances for England at the 2006 World Cup have been widely discussed and spoken of at length. What a brilliant display of stamina, precision and leadership Hargreaves displayed in England’s eventual elimination at the hands of Portugal. Hargreaves was the only England player to net his penalty on the day after what was surely an exhausting performances over the course of 120 minutes.
As a huge supporter of Hargreaves, I’m no where near ready to give up on him just yet. At 29, times have looked brighter for the Canadian born midfielder, yet one could see a comeback in some capacity as Hargreaves realistically could still have 4 or 5 years left to give football if he can finally make progress after such a long stint away.
My hope is that Hargreaves can do just that. For someone who’s had such a tumultuous battle with injury over the last few years, it’s time a little luck and a few good breaks go Owen Hargreaves’ way.