Assessing The Newcomers - Hargreaves
Full Name: Owen Lee Hargreaves
DOB: 20th January 1981 (Age 26)
Nationality: English (born in Canada)
Position(s): DM, CM
Fee: Reported to be around £17 million
And finally, one of the most long, drawn out transfers in modern football is over! Unlike the shock signings of duo Nani and Anderson, the signing of Owen Hargreaves came as much less of a surprise. Firstly, I must admit that pre-World Cup 2006, I was not Hargreaves greatest fans, and I felt he didn`t deserve a place in the England squad. However his performance in the world cup and since has not only proved me wrong, but also encouraged me that Sir Alex is signing a top quality player.
Owen Hargreaves was actually born in the Canadian city of Calgary, after his family had migrated there from England. Hargreaves started his career at lowly Canadian-Based side, Calgary foothills, where he impressed scouts from all around the world. However, it was German giants Bayern Munchen who snapped up Hargreaves, and he was part of the under-19 team who reaches the final of the German U-19 Championship in 1998. After impressing at youth level, Hargreaves made his full Bundesliga debut on August 12th 2000, and in that season Hargreaves helped the team to the Bundesliga title, as well as the Champions League. In the following years Hargreaves established himself as a first team regular, and soon became an integral part of the team.
In the 2006 world cup, Hargreaves managed to gain plaudits from across the world despite such a poor campaign for the country, and was named England`s player of the Competition. Not only did he boost his reputation worldwide, but also started to prove to his most critical of fans, the England fans (including myself), that he was good enough to be in the squad, and is now considered as one of the most important part of the team, and is most probably one of the first names on the team sheet when fit. Hargreaves transfer to Utd was less than simple to say the least, and I lost counts of the number of times he was and hen was not going to join, it caused arguments between the two sides, however seemed to effect Bayern worse, as they slipped to one of their worst positions ever, 4th in the league, too far from a Champions League place. However on May 31st 2007, Manchester United confirmed the signing of Hargreaves, and after over a year of probing, Sir Alex, and more importantly David Gill got their man.
Personally, I think the signing if Hargreaves was something we needed, an extra bite in midfield, and I believe that Hargreaves style of play, with grit, determination and his uncanny ability to regain possession can only be a positive thing for us. Though Hargreaves will undoubtly fit straight into the English style of play, I believe that the capture of Hargreaves will be especially important in Europe, particularly away, where often we have struggled defensively and hopefully Hargreaves will be able to add that extra protection to the back-four that we have needed ever since Roy Keane left.
However, what confuses me about the signing of Hargreaves is Sir Alex`s short term selection problems set in place. Owen Hargreaves seem to be the long-term replacement for Paul Scholes, but I can categorically state that "Paul Scholes will not make way for Hargreaves next season" with 100% confidence, as any manager with Scholes in the form he is at the moment has to play him. The same can be said for Michael Carrick, who`s first season at Old Trafford has fully justified why Sir Alex was willing to pay up to £18.5 million for his services. This then provides a problem, as it is impossible to leave players of Scholes, Carrick and Hargreaves on the bench, which implies that Sir Alex may choose a change of formation. By this I mean reverting to a 4-3-3 formation to incorporate the attacking qualities of Scholes and Carrick, whist having the defensive protection of Owen Hargreaves who will presumably sit deeper. As a knock-on effect this means one the four main forwards, Giggs, Rooney, Ronaldo and Saha having to lose their place in the team, most likely being Saha, however I do think this will lead to less expansive, attractive style of football we have been credited for so much this season. I mean, when we have opted top use the 4-3-3 formation in some of the bigger matches, such as Chelsea in the FA Cup and away at AC Milan, it has not really worked, and our flair players such as Rooney and Ronaldo have been left frustrated. In addition, t6he signings of Nani and Anderson will add even more selection problems for Sir Alex, as previously I had thought that perhaps the man to lose his place may in fact be Ryan Giggs, with Rooney out on the Left and Saha, or more probably a new striker up top by themselves as Sir Alex himself has said he wished to adopt Giggs in a more central role next season, however with the double signing of Nani and Anderson this puts this theory into question.
Having said this, it is certain that in Owen Hargreaves, Sir Alex has brought to us something that we have needed for some time now, ever since losing Keane, and I believe that until the season begins I don`t think Sir Alex will give much away about how we will play, and though Hargreaves may be a risk in the short-term, long-term it is the correct decision as he is without doubt a quality player with bags of experience at Bayern Munich, and we need to start building a team for the future, as Giggs, Scholes, Van Der Sar and Neville can not go on forever.
Article written by united4life.