With 123 players alone being released by Premier League clubs after last season, the competition to find a new club is fierce. But former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves has taken an interesting step to finding a new contract by releasing a series of online videos to prove his fitness. But will Hargreaves’ attempt to find a new club work and what lengths will players go to find a new club?
Hargreaves spent four injury-ravaged seasons at Manchester United, making only 39 appearances (and just 11 minutes of playing time in the last two campaigns) and the 30-year-old is now looking for a new club to try and prolong his career.
The series of 20 YouTube videos show the midfielder running, working in the gym and briefly kicking a football. Hargreaves’ efforts bare a resemblance to Michael Owen’s brochure back in 2009. After his contract at Newcastle United expired Owen sent out a 32-page document to a number of top clubs. The pages included Owen’s career history, a medical review and labeled him a ‘global football star’.
Such a tactic, like Hargreaves’ videos, could be seen in two ways. Both came from players with stalling careers and this could be seen as a desperate last attempt to find the right club when their football on the pitch couldn’t sell themselves to prospective employees.
Or it may be an innovative way for players to promote their talents, with Hargreaves clearly aware of the worldwide appeal of the internet and sites like YouTube. With the public using these websites to show off their skills (e.g. the very popular singing videos), why shouldn’t footballers take advantage of the same tools?
Maybe soon we will see footballers leaving a message on sites like Twitter and Facebook in an effort to find a new club?
Owen’s brochure may have been a risky move but the same summer he earned a move to Manchester United. It is unclear whether the document had anything to do with Sir Alex Ferguson taking a risk on Owen but maybe the new lengths players go to attract a new football club do actually work?
There is very little chance that Hargreaves’ videos will attract the interest of a team like his previous club United but there have been reports linking Hargreaves with a move to the MLS with Toronto FC or Vancouver Whitecaps. This move could give Hargreaves the chance to resurrect his career and fitness away from the glare of English football.
Whether Hargreaves’ self-promotion works as well as Owen’s remains to be seen but for now he may have to put up with comments and views on his videos, rather than professional contracts.