As the game went on, our players tired and we were over run in the middle of the park so I can only think of how different the outcome would have been had we had different personnel on the pitch. Anderson has bundles of energy and whilst you wish he hadn’t been injured, another player comes to mind.
Yesterday it was rumoured that Owen Hargreaves would be announcing his retirement from football at the end of the season after failing to overcome the injuries that have plagued his spell at Old Trafford. In November Hargreaves played his first game for United since September 2008 but his return was an spectacular failure as he tore his hamstring 5 minutes into his comeback and hasn’t been seen since. An initial prognosis of 5 weeks became 8 weeks in December and whilst it was said he had started light training in January, this latest rumour confirms our worst fears in that he is done as a professional footballer.
Mike Phelan said that it was strictly a hamstring injury and there had been no re-occurrence of the knee problems so the fact that we haven’t seen him and with his contract expiring at the end of the season it inevitably means that even if he isn’t going to retire, he is unlikely to be playing here next season as he hasn’t had a chance to justify a new contract.
Looking at the figures, £17m for 4 years, 39 appearances and 2 goals may sound excessive or even a waste but I don’t see it that way. Hargreaves’ contribution in the 2007/2008 season means he will always be held in high regards by our fans. Playing in the middle as well as at right back and on the wing made him a very useful addition to the squad and we reaped the rewards. His part in our European and League double may be overshadowed by Ronaldo’s 42 goals but he like everyone else played their part especially with the thundering penalty against Chelsea in Moscow or the curling freekick in front of the Stretford End to come from behind against Arsenal.
People often attribute mythical powers to players that have been out for long periods. In their absence they become two times the player they were before they were injured as people want to believe they are the missing piece to the puzzle and it could be said this is the case with Hargreaves. I have come across a number of fans who don’t rate his play with the ball but if you too subscribe to this you can not deny the fact that he more than made up for it with energy, effort and versatility. We have suffered in his absence, how many times have you found yourself wishing (Chelsea game included) that he was available or after a game ruing the fact he wasn’t?
If he is to retire at the end of the season we finally get some closure instead of continually waiting for good news and wondering if he’ll be back any time soon. A top quality midfielder, he is a loss to both United and England, hopefully his case won’t be one repeated at Old Trafford.