Date: 25th May 2011 at 5:30pm
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Having been confirmed that Owen Hargreaves will not be offered a new deal at Old Trafford, the predominant question for fans regarding the midfielder will be ‘what if?’

We were aware of Hargreaves injury issues when we signed him, he was coming off a broken leg at Bayern Munich and played just 9 league games in his final season with the German giants so the risk was there but we still decided to gamble and depending on your outlook on life his spell as brief as it was can be deemed either a success or a failure.

I’d be fooling nobody if I called Hargreaves 4 years at Old Trafford an unmitigated success. For the fee we paid Sir Alex and we the fans would have hoped for way more than the 39 appearances we got but saying that I doubt there will be any weeping when we look at what we did get in those games.

I remember being excited about the Hargreaves signing, he had been England’s stand out performer in Germany the previous summer so there were high hopes for him at Old Trafford. Few fans weren’t excited about the signing as it was expected he would provide that extra bite in the midfield at a time when there were still questions being asked about an adequate replacement for Roy Keane.

Bayern Munich had been playing hardball over the  England international, using all the usual language a team does when a team is looking to get top dollar for a player they would like to keep but are ultimately resigned to losing. United had failed to sign Hargreaves in the January and summer previously despite Hargreaves admitting he would like to play in the Premiership as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness dug their heels in regarding a transfer and to be fair they had every right to do so, Bayern Munich aren’t a small side to be bullied into selling their players so they could have kept Hargreaves albeit an unhappy Hargreaves.

But an announcement was made in May that Hargreaves would sign in July and the rest as they say is history as 4 years and 39 appearances later his tenure here won’t go down as the monumental spell that it should have been.

I guess in instances like this it is better to focus on the good rather than the bad so in that case the contribution he made to our double in 2008 was invaluable. Everyone will remember his performances in Europe and the freekicks against Arsenal and Fulham. His versatility in that season, playing in defence, in the middle and out wide was an obvious advantage as we saw in the Champions League final at right wing as he battled against Ashley Cole to keep the left back’s forays forward to a minimum and if we speak of the final how can you not mention his thumping penalty into the top corner past Petr Cech in the shootout and his roaring celebration after? It will be an enduring image of his spell here.

These are the memories he left us with to hold onto and sadly they are why we ask what if he had been able to remain fit and had not been so unlucky with injuries?

Sit back and try and recall how many times you have said to yourself after seeing a poor midfield performance from United, ‘I wish Hargreaves had been in there?’ Probably the biggest instance of this is the Champions League final in 2009 where we were outclassed in the midfield and left chasing our tails as Xavi and Iniesta passed around us.

Would Hargreaves’ energy and determination have helped? I would wager yes. This isn’t to say he was a one man show but Hargreaves was a quality player and did his job well so if he was tasked with trying to keep Barcelona on a leash I feel we would have fared better than we did that night in Rome.

Nobody knew that when he played against Chelsea in September 2008 that would be the last proper performance we would get from him but the tendonitis in both of his knees ensured that despite numerous false dawns his time as a United player essentially ended on that afternoon.

He said he came to United to win trophies in 2007 and a year later he reached the pinacle of club football doing a European Cup and League double so despite his career at United being sadly curtailed for everything that came before that afternoon at Stamford Bridge in 2008 we are truly happy and grateful.


10 responses to “‘What If?’ The question that will plague Owen Hargreaves’ United career”

  1. john says:

    so sorry for hargreaves he was a great player. he was the closest player to replace keane and now hill be gone. never forget the 2008 season thanks to you.

  2. J Mistry says:

    Some really great memories, will be remembered @OT for the right reasons. Wish him all the best for the future, sincerely.

    “I want curly hair too.”

  3. Stu says:

    I’m so sorry for you owen!!! – You must have been through hell and back trying to get fit after your ops! – And then just when maybe you thought you could see the light at the end of the tunnel someone turned that light out! – I suppose as a footballer and a person you can see how difficult it was for Alex to make this decision about you, but time has run out, and whether its still physically or mental problem you have I hope that you find happiness at another club! My only regret is that it wasn’t at united! – Bon Voyage!!!

  4. Pez says:

    i can’t look at it in the same light as you guys, poor signing and won’t be remembered for the right reasons, no-one will forget his ability but his transfer stands out as a massive dud.

  5. MK says:

    I think Hargreaves would have made a great difference to the side over the last three years; this year we would have won the league sooner and would be going into the champions league final a lot more confident than we are at the moment.

    Last year we would probably have won the league and in Rome 2009 he would not have allowed Xavi and Iniesta the free rein they had after Barcelona went 1-0 up.

    We have been giving Fergie a lot of stick over the last two years for not reinforcing our midfield; but we forget that the signing of Hargreaves four years ago was a great coup by Fergie, sadly he was very unlucky that the player’s career took a turn for the worse. Rather than get rid of him and replace him, Fergie was loyal to the player and gave him three years to get back! Rather than criticise, we should admire such loyalty.

    To add to this, I don’t see a player in the world right now who can do what a fully fit Hargreaves can…so thank you for the memories Hargreaves and best of luck for the future.

  6. hugh ogilvie says:

    very sad news, i hope he finds another club but i fear this won’t happen. if he does, and remains fit, england might stand a fighting chance in euro 2012.

    he was brilliant for united whenever he played; even the day he tore his hamstring, i was watching motd highlights and got overexcited before he got crocked again.

    the ideal long term replacement for keane and an excellent dead ball player.

    good luck to you owen.

  7. king says:

    i feel like crying,cause he is my best player in man-utd i will never foget your smile,curly hair and your free kicks,most expecially the one against are going to be truly miss

  8. king says:

    i wish him injury free whereever new club he is going

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