Like thousands of Manchester United fans – and possibly many City ones, I cannot decide what to make of the shock, free transfer move by Owen Hargreaves to the blue side of town. Why? By all reports, Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, West Brom and a number of Championship outfits showed interest in signing him so why go to a club where his chances of even getting a seat on the bench will be highly improbable. You would think that after so long without kicking a ball, giving himself the chance of getting as much game time as possible – and an opportunity to prove his fitness, would have been his major objective.
Sir Alex Ferguson had plenty of valid reasons for not renewing Hargreaves’ contract even though the midfielder has been reported as offering to play for nothing but it’s not that simple. Ferguson is obliged to name a squad to the Premier League in which every spot will be invaluable during a season in which United are likely to play around 60 matches. Naming anyone with a large question mark over their fitness will leave the squad short so it’s a big risk to take. It will also deny a chance for one of the many promising youngsters coming through the ranks of being given an opportunity to develop.
Despite all that, there must have been another option available to Ferguson. Unless I’m missing something, Hargreaves could have been put on a one year, low wage contract with an agreement that he goes on a season loan to a less ambitious Premier or Championship club in order to prove his fitness and if successful, returning to Old Trafford in 12 months time. Is that too simplistic or does Sir Alex and his medicos know something that we don’t?
Many United greats have crossed the great divide over the years, including Denis Law, Peter Schmeichel, Brian Kidd and others so Hargreaves doing the same is no cause for anyone to feel bitter about it. The lad has been to hell and is making what must be a last ditch, brave attempt to come back from it. Decency tells me that he should at least go with our good wishes.
Do you feel betrayed by Hargreaves going to United’s great rivals?