Owen Hargreaves was released by Manchester United after failing to overcome a series of injuries. Despite claiming he was prepared to play for United for free to pay back the years of wages he had been paid whilst not playing any football, he then signed for rivals City.
United were convinced he was never going to make a full recovery but Hargreaves thought otherwise and managed to convince City of the same.
“I’m going to blow people away,” Hargreaves said days before a medical with the blues. “I’m coming back believing I can return to the level I was at before. My body feels great and my knees are perfect. I’ve just got this huge chip on my shoulder because I’ve been out for three years and people think I’m dead and buried. I can understand why. I can see why people would be sceptical. But, right now, I’d like to think I can play 40 games this season and with the right care I believe I can train every day. I hope to be back in the England side for the European Championship next summer.”
Hargreaves has fallen a little short of 40 games, playing 13 minutes of Premier League football for City this season, making a total of 4 appearances in all competitions, or 157 minutes. It’s pretty safe to say he won’t be in the England side this summer either.
“We took a gamble on Owen because he was such a fantastic player,” Mancini said in February. “We thought we could try to get him fit in two or three months and then he would be able to play. But it hasn’t worked out quite like that. When you have a player who hasn’t played for two years and he starts to train every day there are small problems all the time. Problems in the knees or the hamstrings. So Owen hasn’t been able to play when we have needed him.”
It has been confirmed that Hargreaves won’t be offered a new contract and will be released in the summer. Whilst of course it would be nice to feel sympathy for a former player, who was so important during our Double success in 2008, it is hard to feel anything but smug after he joined our hated rivals after all our patience and then slag off our medical team.
“I’ve had to be a guinea pig for a lot of these treatments,” Hargreaves said a month in to this City career. “But when you’re left to try to make something of a difficult situation, it’s not really an option to say: ‘Let’s sit it out and rest for six months.’ With hindsight it’s a lot easier. And, yes, the injections I had I probably should not have had.”
The following day, the club released a statement: “Manchester United is disappointed with Owen’s remarks. The club gave him the best possible care for three years and is as disappointed as anyone he was not able to play a part in the team’s success at that time. It has shared all the medical records with Manchester City and is comfortable with the actions taken by its medical staff at each step of his many attempts at rehabilitation. United does not acknowledge any validity in the comments Owen is alleged to have made.”
Unless City have also treated Hargreaves like a guinea pig, it appears as though the only problem is the player, and his dodgy knees, which he had when he joined United for £18m but didn’t reveal to our medical staff.
Maybe I’m heartless but I’m glad he flopped so massively at City, particularly seeing as though he was clearly signed in attempt to get under our skin. Maybe now he can be a guinea pig in League 1 and blow them away next season instead.