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Owen Hargreaves – Waste of Man Utd Money? No Chance

Owen Hargreaves may soon be heading to America in an attempt to play some football in the MLS, with Toronto FC apparently chasing the free agent’s signature. Here, I have a look at whether Owen Hargreaves was, like some people say, a Manchester Un…

Owen Hargreaves may soon be heading to America in an attempt to play some football in the MLS, with Toronto FC apparently chasing the free agent’s signature. Here, I have a look at whether Owen Hargreaves was, like some people say, a Manchester United failure, or a hugely underrated but also massively unfortunate member of a widely successfully double winning season in 2008.

Just over four years ago, on July 9th 2007, Manchester United had unveiled their new midfield signing, English international, Owen Hargreaves from Bayern Munich in a £17 million deal. It was set to be the start of something new, and something different in the middle of the midfield for United, something that would be successful and title winning for Sir Alex Ferguson. It did, start so well, with Hargreaves winning his second Champions League medal in his first season with United as well as a Premier League medal, but alas, it went drastically and miserably downhill from there.

Today, four years on from his signing, and Owen Hargreaves has the sympathy of many a football fan, being released by United into the footballing wilderness and left looking for a new club or perhaps staring blankly at premature retirement. It is very sad to see, that such a technically gifted player who could have achieved so much more at the top level, just didn’t have the required fitness levels and injury resistance to survive for longer. If only his knees worked. If only those pivotal hinge joints, the biggest and most complex joints in the human body, the knees held out for longer. After all, they are quite important for a footballer.

Hargreaves managed 39 appearances for Manchester United during his four season spell at Old Trafford, with 34 of them coming in his first and most successful season in England. Really, it was the only actual season Hargreaves spent at Manchester United, because most of his time in his last three seasons was in numerous expert hospitals around the world, having his various injuries looked at in an attempt to cure them. Just to emphasise how unfortunate the guy is, Wayne Rooney, Manchester United striker since 2004, has played more games in each season he has been at United than Hargreaves had done in his whole United career.

Injuries wasted this mans career, and ruined his four year contract. United paid £17 million for his signature, and got only a season out of him, whilst having to pay his wages, which allows critics to blast United for paying over the odds on a player who was hardly fit enough to manage a whole season. It allows some cynics to claim that Hargreaves was a complete waste of money for Manchester United, and will go down as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst buys alongside Kleberson, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Diego Forlan and Bebe.

I think, that this assumption is completely unfair, unworthy, and fails to acknowledge Hargreaves’s achievements as a Manchester United player as well as those possible achievements if the injuries had not stood defiantly in his way. There is absolutely no arguing at all that Hargreaves was a big part of Manchester United’s Premier League season in 2007-08, with 23 appearances. He was, as ever, gritty, hard working, the “engine” as some called him in the midfield, and a non stop worker who would win the ball and help to keep it. He scored 2 Premier League goals that season, one you may remember which was the winner against Arsenal in which he curled the free-kick over the Arsenal wall as it flew gracefully into the corner at Old Trafford.

Then, in every Champions League game he played, he was just as important, using his deceptive pace on the right hand side occasionally to whip in some very dangerous crosses as well as being his usual athletic, disciplined and determined self in all other areas. His penalty in the final against Chelsea was perfect; unstoppably placed beautifully into the top corner on United’s way to winning the unbearably tense shoot-out.

Make no mistake, Owen Hargreaves had his fair share of big contributions to that season with Manchester United. While Hargreaves may have cost £17 million, he helped United win over £85 million from Champions League prize money as well as around £15 million from coming first in the Premier League, United didn’t do so bad in Hargreaves first year financially.

Some may persist in saying that £17 million was too much of a risk on a player like this, who had known injury troubles, and they may  have a case, but to say that United made a mistake in signing Hargreaves is not a view I would have any time for. In fact, the players only failing was his fitness, and there was very little he could do about that, with this being pretty much only to do with huge bad luck and nothing else. Hagreaves should spend hours each day on treadmills, put 100% into every training session, eat well and live a healthily lifestyle, bringing his fitness to another level.

Now a free agent, Hargreaves is a player many clubs will be cautiously looking at from a distance. Not because of a lack of quality, but simply because of his injury issues. Any club would be very lucky to have a fit Hargreaves playing in their midfield, as he possesses a quality very rare in modern English internationals, and that is the passion, determination and hard working nature to do anything it takes to win the game. He is very versatile, strong, solid in defence and dangerous in attack and always reliable. All of those qualities he showed in his first season with United, and was a credit to himself in his performances considering he was playing through the pain.

On a pay as you play deal, which is what he is willing to have, Hargreaves would be a fine player to have waiting in the squad for an opportunity. Personally, I think it would be best for him to hang up his boots now, and give those knees a rest, but whatever he does, I wish him well, and thank him for his service for Manchester United, respecting and acknowledging what a tough time he had in the treatment room.

Tell me what you think!

Submitted by DBSFootball



  1. Xyth

    June 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Hargo must be one of United’s unluckiest players ever. I was hoping that he was near his full fitness and Fergie would give him one last chance on a pay as your play deal.

    Anyway, good luck to him whatever he does next.

    • manutd

      July 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm

      fergie Please give him a last shot,the fans want to see him play for manutd again,he is the best we never could utilize

  2. MUFC

    June 26, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I agree. I think Hargreaves was a great player and I believe we’d have won another title if he’d been in the team consistently. Surely he’d have been worth an extra couple of points for us in 2009-10. The only disappointment for me is that circumstances meant he didn’t have the chance to shine, there was never any doubt about his quality or ability. United come under criticism for buying someone with previous injury concerns (obviously our rivals need every little “victory” against us that they can get), but he had to pass a medical to join and in doing so would have been insured by the club. With that in mind I’m sure that he wages and the transfer fee ended up costing United a lot less than his contract may have suggested.


    June 26, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Hargreaves has been one of our great player in that year but at less the coach shld have give him some chance like the way they did to Paul Scholes when his was having his eyes problem or sign him on with pay as u play i know Hargreaves will have love it and take it coz his love the the team but i wish him all the best in any time his will find him self and also his will be always be remembered in our heart

  4. Rick

    June 26, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I’d go as far as saying that Hargreaves could have made up substantially for the difference between United and Barca. That’s twice in a row that we have not fielded our best mid-field. Fletcher and Hargreaves. United are a stronger side with those two in midfield.

    It’s sad thing he had to leave the way he did.

  5. williamt

    June 26, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Your article is fair and accurate.
    Hargraves was a superior player and would have a been a major factor against Barca in the final. His best role would have been sitting in front of the back four disrupting the Barca midfield.
    Hargraves and United deserved better!

  6. AdiI

    June 26, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    I can completely agree with the views you’ve posted here mate.I remember the way Bayern fought tooth-and-nail to stop Hargo from leaving,and that,if nothing else,proves what a quality player Hargo is.If only he wasn’t so injury prone.His story reminds me of Jordi Cruyff

  7. Terrence

    June 26, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Cant agree more. In fact I would say it was Hargreaves who made the difference from Man United being a CL semi-finalist to a CL winner. Remember the previous season we were at our flamboyant best murdering the Romans 7-1 but still we lost in the semis. Hargo came in, won the ball a lot, played as right back in CDM and I would say was the difference.

  8. oz

    June 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    thats the difference between arsenal and manure .we cant just throw away tens of millions on players like fergie,hes bought many titles and already spent over 35 mill this season.will leave manure ven deeper in the hole but doesnt care be retired sooon.

  9. Aussiehopper

    June 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I Agree with everyones comments except the last one, hargreaves was an out and out champion who was the cream on Man u cake, all through history champions have been struck down in all walks of life through no fault of their own, yes i would have loved Hargo to have had a pay as you play deal at Man U
    for the rest of his career,as i believe
    so would Fergie, but perhaps the FA
    rules on the numbers of International and British players in a team forced their hand, whatever we have lost an English oak of the finest quality,
    a sad day indeed.

  10. peter

    June 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I’m an arsenal fan but I really do sympathise for Hargreves a man who shone at a dreadful world cup and had such a bright future. I hope he does well wherever he goes.

  11. ian macleay

    June 26, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I did a book on Hargreaves. he was my favourite player of recent times.
    He played a major part in Utd winning the Champions League and the Premier. If Ronaldo had not been around he would have scored even more goals from dead ball situations.
    His loss to Utd and England was incalculable. The only English player capable of closing down Messi. Just so unlucky with injury. Also off the field he was a perfect role model avoiding scandal and setting a fine example.
    A tragedy of Shakespearian proportions. I wish him well

  12. Val

    June 27, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Funny how you say you have no time for this view but write an entire post about it. Nobody questions Hargreaves’ quality but a player’s value depends greatly on his ability to retain his fitness levels througout his career or at least a season. United was extremely patient with him and it was a bit of a gamble, buying him. To say that HE won them the £85 million in his first year would be a stretch because he wasn’t playing all by himself. Owen was a quality player who just did not have the fitness needed at United and therefore he was a bad buy. You can be as sentimental as you want, but those are the facts. He was a bad business deal.

  13. Shahid

    June 27, 2011 at 5:09 am

    What a sad tale for a man whose partnership with carrick, fletcher and nani would have been 90% unstoppable. But whatever it is, i plead to man utd to allow him another 2 years contract since the future is never known. I don’t think am gonna stop watching him play in a united jersey cos he is NOT FOR SALE. Love u hargreaves. Hope u will stay at old trafford and be named a legend.

  14. Pingback: Queens Park Rangers Eyeing Move for Unwanted Owen Hargreaves – Bleacher Report | Clean Sheet

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