Really worth the gamble at Loftus Rd?
Luck is a staple of modern day life. You buy a lottery ticket, you stick a fiver on a weekend accumulator, you encounter someone new; praying that luck will be on your side. While the heavens shine down on the fortunate few, rewarding then with the windfall that they so desired, the majority watch on, hoping that next time they need a blessing, it will arrive. However, there are some individuals who feel like they have run out of luck, life’s fortunes slipping away from them; an ever distant memory. None will feel more aggrieved than Owen Hargreaves, a man whose blossoming career promised so much only to decline with a meagre whimper thanks to unrelenting injury problems. Now training with QPR, the Canadian-born midfielder may have one last chance to impress at the game’s peak level before his legs give way, perhaps literally.
Without making Queens Park Rangers sound like an Intensive Care Unit, the club are currently in possession of two of the most injury beleaguered men to have ever graced the Premier League. While Hargreaves is merely training with the squad, Kieron Dyer has only recently signed a new permanent contract. Fans must be thanking the gods that Jonathan Woodgate hasn’t signed up. While many are confused at former West Ham man Dyer being offered a new contract, that angst has been recompensed through the marquee signings of Park Ji-Sung and Junior Hoilett, along with Adel Taarabt agreeing to extend his stay at Loftus Road. However, should Hargreaves also sign a contract, it would be to no one’s astonishment if Hoops fans were to question whether yet another injury prone player will be worth risking, considering a bank balance that will be tipping towards its maximum.
While a pay-as-you-play contract is the likely offer that would be made to Hargreaves, problems can still arise with this type of agreement. Take the aforementioned Jonathan Woodgate for example. His season at Stoke was completely inconsistent. When needed for the Potters’ Europa League games where rotation was required, his injuries prevented him from travelling to away games, therefore leaving Pulis’ men a defender short. This incidence is one of many disappointing ‘PAYP’ deals that severely outnumber ones that have. There is no question that Owen Hargreaves was a good player. He would not have been selected so often for England otherwise. However, just as Ledley King struggled at Spurs in recent times, opportunities to play at maximum will be so limited if at all. For a surgeon to state that Hargreaves’ knees were in the worst condition he has seen in his 35 year professional career, indicates that no matter how much recovery surgery the former Bayern man had or is due to have, he will never be anything other than a constant burden.
With nine Premier League games in just four years, it would be foolish to think that Hargreaves could walk straight into the team and cope with the pace of the game, which may well have increased even further over his absent years. If Mark Hughes can see past the 31-year-old’s dreadful health issues and would support further rehabilitation should it be needed, then Hargreaves may have found the right club to have one last shot at success. However, if the former Man United midfielder can barely stand after 10 minutes of his debut, then he may go down as the unluckiest footballers of the modern era.