Sir Alex Ferguson claimed last month that Owen Hargreaves should return to action by the end of January. Whether this will happen is yet to be seen but the likelihood is that he won’t; he was also supposed to return in November and before that he was predicted to be fit for the beginning of the season. Obviously he failed to reach these targets and the player hasn’t turned out for Manchester United since September 2008. He is very much the forgotten man at Manchester United but if he were to regain full fitness there is no doubt that he would start for them. But given his extended absence from first-team action, should Ferguson move on from Hargreaves and make plans without considering him.
United have struggled this year; even the most fervent supporter would have to concede that they are not as convincing a team as they were last year. Their midfield’s inadequacies have been exposed this season as they no longer possess the mask of stardust that Cristiano Ronaldo provided. The first-choice combination of Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick lacks pace and imagination, while Anderson has not built on his impressive first season. Hargreaves would provide real drive and energy and make the United side far more dynamic.
Hargreaves’ injury problems have provided Ferguson with a problem as he has not been able to purchase a central midfield powerhouse with the knowledge that he has the England international on his books. He has clearly been planning for a future including Hargreaves given his constant assertions that the player will return; but perhaps it is time for him to give up on the former Bayern Munich player. He has only made 37 appearances for United since his move on 2007 and the £17million spent on him appears to have been money poorly spent.
Hargreaves has proven himself over the last few years as completely unreliable in terms of fitness so when is Ferguson going to start planning without him?. If he begins to work on the assumption that Hargreaves is not going to be a key member of his side, then he could bring in a midfielder to build his side around (assuming he has the finances). As it stands, Hargreaves is sorely missed by the United team and they cannot continue to move forward in the constant hope that he will return.