Once dubbed the finest defensive midfield player in the World, Owen Hargreaves was a key figure in the Manchester United first team, instrumental to United’s double success of 2008. Versatile, Hargreaves was able to play all along the right side, as well as in the holding midfield position he frequented most.
Arguably, Hargreaves had been England’s best performing player in the 2006 World Cup. He was the most lively member of an anemic England midfield, and was the only man to convert from the spot in the Three Lions’ shoot out loss at the hands of Portugal.
However, under that terrific exterior, Hargreaves has an underlying weakness, the Canadian born Englishman has been dogged by injuries, ones which have limited his progress after a terrific debut season at United.
Tendonitis in both knees, and recurring minor injuries have conspired to stop Hargreaves from participating in the first team, the Englishman has had to watch on from the sidelines as his teammates have made history over the last three season.
When United needed him most, in the Champions League final of 2009, Hargreaves was still on the treatment table, undoubtedly, his energy in midfield would have assisted in keeping out the likes of Xavi and Iniesta. Time and time again, critics of United have insisted that they miss a strong presence in central midfield, a void that was left gaping open by Hargreaves’ consistent problems.
The Hargreaves tragedy is one that has not just effected United though, England have sorely missed him too. Capello’s men were ripped apart by the verve of players like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil in South Africa, could Hargreaves have not posed a more substantial challenge to them than the mediocre Gareth Barry?
Hargreaves had the potential to be a shining light on both the club and international stage, after all, even despite those injuries he still boasts a remarkable collection of medals, including two Champions League triumphs, and league titles in both England and Germany. Hargreaves is a member of a select club of English players to have won Champions League titles with non-English teams, as well as a select club of English players to have improved their reputation after playing in a World Cup.
May 22, 2011 will forever remain a sad day in the career of Owen Hargreaves. After years of struggles, the midfielder has been released by Manchester United, with a message of hope, for the resurrection of the man’s career.
At age thirty, there is still gas left in Hargreaves’ tank, if only he can overcome his injury problems, he could still yet prove to be a crucial player for a whole variety of teams in Europe. Hargreaves is the best English holding midfield player of his generation, and he won’t let a few injuries get in the way, as he looks to go out on a high.