Why we should all (including United fans) wish Owen Hargreaves well at Man City
This time two weeks ago we were all looking forward to the transfer window, weren’t we? Who knew what would happen; United had just hammered Arsenal (Hello Dan Ferdinand…), Carlos Tevez still wanted to return to South America and Gary Cahill was destined for North London.
But nothing, NOTHING…came as much as a surprise as Manchester City’s signing of and England midfielder who made his international debut in 2001. Joe Cole? Nope. Michael Carrick? Of course not. Gavin McCann? Close, in that he’s a defensive midfielder. I’m of course talking about Owen Hargreaves, the man who makes Darren Anderton look like Mr. Incredible.
Now those of you who listened to the Pubcast last season and the eight of you who listen to my interjections this seasons know I’m a bit of a Manchester United supporter. And as such, I shouldn’t really like players we signed for £17m moving on a free transfer to not only our biggest challenger in the league but also our neighbours. But I’m fully behind Owen Hargreaves, and I cite the case of another Owen to back it up.
Cast your mind back to the summer of 2009. Heady days they were, with the country in disarray and the pop charts a state. Kind of like today.
One of the country’s biggest clubs had just been relegated and their star player was available for nothing (not like today, unless you come from Blackpool). Hull were interested, as were Everton, and never rule out a move from Stoke. But amazingly, on a hot June day, the League Champions and Champions League runners-up swooped in. The player? Michael Owen. The club? Manchester United.
Now the cases do differ. Michael Owen had no club and had left our bitter rivals from down the M56 a whole 5 years earlier, whereas Owen Hargreaves had left United mere months before despite 3 years of rehabilitation from the club. But how can anyone begrudge him his move? Michael Owen could have started 30 games in the league for Stoke, scored 13 goals and earned a move to Tottenham or Villa. Instead he went for 15 starts, 3 goals and a few medals. But be honest, if you had been barracked by your former fans for being driven out of a club where the fans now supported an incompetent Spanish madman what would you do?
Hargreaves probably would have gone to the MLS, played a bit and retired aged 32. Instead, he now stands the chance to win the League (next season…maybe…) and, if he can stay fit, play a lot of games. Everyone knows he’s better than Gareth Barry, and he could usurp him for not only club but country as well. I won’t be happy if Hargreaves does win the league but he deserves the opportunity to do so.
When it comes down to it, professional players at the top of their game shouldn’t leave one club for an equally placed rival when they could get the same money, adulation and plaudits where they were (I’m looking at YOU Carlos…). But if it revives your career and gives you the opportunity to reclaim past glories then go for it. Whether your name includes Owen or not I support you.