Posted on Friday, 30th July 2010 by Amrith
It was all going so well with the recovery and the pre-season training. There was news of him going to America. On reading this, I was overjoyed to see that he was finally going to have a full pre-season but my joy was short lived for I soon learned that he was travelling to the States, not to play but to see the doctor again. One step forward, two steps back.
There are a few questions raised about what is to be this campaign. Question number 1: Are we going to win anything at all this season? Question number 2: What is going to happen with this Glazer fiasco? Question number 3: Are we going to sign anyone at all before the transfer window closes. The lack of signings, a patchy pre-season and a general antipathy towards the Glazer regime seems to be weighing heavily on the fans’ minds. In my mind however, the biggest question remains; Question number 4.
Just in case you haven’t figured out what I’m talking about, it’s the mammoth decision that faces Sir Alex in the coming few weeks – to be or not to be? Or in this case, to Hargreaves or to not Hargreaves?
With the new regulations coming into effect, Sir Alex has to name his 25 man squad before the start of September, and with the season being hardly a couple of weeks away, you get the point. The new regulations state that there can be only 25 players above the age of 21 in the squad with 8 of them being “home-grown”. Now United don’t have a problem at all on that front with 12 players; Michael Carrick, Jonny Evans, Rio Ferdinand, Darren Fletcher, Darron Gibson, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, John O’Shea, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes qualifying for that. Nemanja Vidic, Edwin Van der Sar, Antonio Valencia, Nani, Tomasz Kuszczak, Ji-Sung Park, Patrice Evra, Mame Biram Diouf, Dimitar Berbatov, Anderson, Owen Hargreaves, Javier Hernandez and Ritchie de Laet are the other players above 21 who are not “home-grown”. Further changes to the squad can only be made in January if necessary. Players under 21 do not count; there can be as many as necessary.
On the face of it, there does not seem to be a problem, we have 12 homegrown plus 13 foreign players. This makes it a grand total of 25. Pretty good so far but this is where the dilemma comes in. Does the gaffer include Hargreaves or does he not? If there are no additions to the squad, there should be no question at all, it’s an automatic selection but in all likelihood, there will be one signing. This poses a problem for sure. The only two people whose places are in doubt seem to be jersey numbers 4 and two times four.
Anderson’s progress after knee surgery seems to be on schedule and if all goes according to plan, he should be back by mid-September or early October. The back end of last season was most definitely Nani’s breakthrough and it was widely expected that Ando would have the same impact but just as he was showing signs of stability, the knee injury set in. While he does bring in the much needed creativity and running that United definitely need, his attitude still remains suspect and people are questioning when, if at all, he will deliver.
Hargreaves, on the other hand, is an entirely different kettle of fish. The man, when fit, is the single most versatile player in the squad. He can play with equal aplomb in the heart of midfield, the right wing or even slot in ably at right back if and when necessary. His reading of the game is second to none. The reason people rate Hargo so highly is simply because he’s an interceptor not a destroyer. He does not foul people out of the game. Instead, he uses his incredible vision to see how the play is likely to develop and bases his game on interception to break up play.
The boy can tackle, dribble, take a sweet free kick and is two-footed. He also brings some steel into the team which is oh so important. In fact, his worth can be measured just by the fact that Capello was even considering him for world cup duty in spite of him hardly having played for almost 18 months. Such is the pedigree of the man. The key there though is, WHEN HE IS FIT.
If you ask the fans out there what their best memory of last season was, most of them will probably refer to the Cup triumph; after all it was the only piece of silverware we won last term. For me though, it was different. It was this sight in the 92nd minute of the game at the Stadium of light. The game was won when emerged this man from the wild with a mop of curly hair and 10 day stubble stepping out onto the pitch. I can honestly tell you that the feeling was one of pure ecstasy. I was far too young at the time when Eric returned from his 8 month ban but this was my personal ‘Return of the King’ moment.
Assuming that there is another signing and Hargo and Ando are included, the candidates most likely who look to drop out are Diouf and De Laet. While loaning out either will raise eyebrows, it is definitely a possibility that would’ve crossed Sir Alex’s mind. What decision he takes, though, remains to be seen.
So should Hargo be included? A resounding YES, in my opinion. He brings so much to the table that it’s difficult to look beyond him. Patience is something that most fans are running out of and are calling for his head. Not unfounded for sure but give him a while longer. I mean, you’ve waited this long, why not a little while longer?