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"Ideally, everyone would like to have the stepovers and overhead kicks and be
like Ronaldo. But we all have abilities and you learn what you do well." When
Owen Hargreaves spoke candidly about his own limitations a few weeks back
there was no hint of a yearning to show down the right flank at Old Trafford
what, from his position on the substitute's bench, he has been watching the
Portuguese deliver most of this season.

Last night he provided precisely that. The hair gel was missing, the boots white
not red and Ronaldo does not pull his socks up quite so high, but it might for all
the world have been United's 37-goal man shepherding ball after ball down the
right flank.

Hargreaves seemed to have been waiting for this opportunity all his life. He might
have been signed as a holding midfielder for European nights – after Sir Alex
Ferguson admired his battling displays quelling Milan's Kaka and Lyons' Juninho,
in the Champions League for Bayern Munich – but he did not waste much time
making himself at home in Ronaldo's berth.

The game was four minutes old when Carlos Tevez first released him down the
right. A right-footed cross of the Beckham class was headed clear by Juan as
Anderson waited.

There were occasional retreats to type for Hargreaves: a clattering challenge to
dispossess David Pizarro and start another move which saw another of his own
crosses dealt with. But make no mistake – he was here to do what Ronaldo
does, morphing between the flank and central channel, and Old Trafford had to
wait less than 10 minutes for the improbable sight of Hargreaves sent racing
through on goal by Ryan Giggs. Doni's alertness denied him, but it was on the
same piece of turf that Hargreaves displayed a skill he only gets the chance to
show at Carrington. A 30-yard lofted pass from Giggs was taken down, left
-footed with all the aplomb of Wayne Rooney. This time Juan intervened as he
shaped to shoot with his right.

There were more of the hidden talents which Bayern fans probably know more
about than United, such as the decision-making which saw Hargreaves deliver a
first-time cross towards Giggs, after Tevez released him into space when others
might have gone for glory.

It was a first half of such utter dominance that it is hard to believe that United –
playing mostly with squad players – will ever have a better chance of reclaiming
the Champions League.

Hargreaves could be forgiven for thinking he was in dreamland. Ferguson's
decision to play Ji-Sung Park down the right flank in Rome was eye-catching
because of the impression it gave that Hargreaves had slipped yet further
down the pecking order. He is not utterly free of injury worries – the tendonitis
that ruined the early part of his season can still flare up – but would have hoped
for more than the solitary European start (in Lyons) before this night. Michael
Carrick's resurgence of late has seen his hopes further diminish.

This was a night of such supremacy that even Gary Neville took a place in central
midfield when he arrived to a thunderous welcome nine minutes before the end.
But by then Hargreaves had provided his most eloquent reminder that he is the
man to play when Ronaldo's resting up. Taking a pass from Tevez on 70 minutes,
skipping down the right flank and crossing, inch perfect, for the diving header
which put Roma out of sight.

"Ferguson followed and tracked Hargreaves for a long time so I don't think
playing him was presumptuous [about our threat]," Luciano Spalletti said later.
Ferguson was more succinct. "He was our man of the match," he said.

- By Ian Herbert at Old Trafford

The Independent

Article No. 2

Hargreaves in form to justify the £18m fee for once

Bought at considerable expense after a pursuit lasting more than a year, Owen
Hargreaves arrived at Manchester United last summer as the intelligent,
experienced player who was supposed to turn the club into potential Champions
League winners.

Instead, the Canadian-born England midfielder, 27, has spent much of this
season as a substitute.

United have certainly developed into one of the best teams in Europe, but they
have done it largely without the help of their £18million signing from Bayern
Munich.

Last night Hargreaves emerged from the periphery of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad
to play an important role in the type of game that he was bought for.

On this occasion, United followers began to see what the original fuss had been
about. Hargreaves — deemed so important to England — has barely been
handed the responsibility he craves by Ferguson.

Before last night, Brazilian Anderson, 20 this Sunday, had played more games
than his senior colleague, as had fledgling Portuguese winger Nani.

One of Hargreaves' most recent starts had come against Bolton — as an
emergency right back.

What Hargreaves, a Champions League finalist with Bayern, has made of it is
open to debate.

Perhaps he would concede that early-season injuries and subsequent indifferent
form has made it easy for his manager to leave him out.

But this was his moment and he rose to the occasion in a manner befitting his
stature in Europe.

Bought by Ferguson as a holding midfielder, a player to stop United being
embarrassed in Europe as they were by Milan's stellar midfield in last season's
semi-final, Hargreaves was deployed in a more offensive role last night as his
manager boldly left Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo on the
bench.

Ferguson may have surprised everybody with his team, given that United's
Barclays Premier League game against Arsenal at Old Trafford does not take
place until Sunday afternoon.

Nevertheless, Hargreaves' energy and enterprise was such that United were as
fluent and incisive as ever at times last night, especially in the first half.

With Michael Carrick playing the holding role in front of a patched-up back four,
Hargreaves, along with Anderson, was encouraged to occupy the space ahead of
that.

The manner in which Hargreaves supplied Tevez for the winning goal with 20
minutes left was typical of his contribution.

Receiving the ball wide on the right, Hargreaves delivered a clipped cross with his
right foot that was once the trademark of David Beckham.

Certainly, Hargreaves' England colleague would have been delighted with its
accuracy as the ball fell in front of Tevez, allowing the Argentine to head it past
goalkeeper Doni.

It was a superb goal and the two players had served notice of their capabilities
on several occasions prior to it.

Most noteable was a moment in the first half when Tevez sent Hargreaves clear
down the right, and his superb first-time cross set up Ryan Giggs for a left-foot
shot that Doni again saved well.

Another Hargreaves cross let Anderson in for a shot that the keeper also saved
before Hargreaves burst clear himself just before the interval, only to be stopped
by two defenders.

Having endured such a frustrating season, Hargreaves looked liberated last night
and one can imagine that he felt it.

This was, after all, only his second European start for United. Ferguson later
nominated him as his team's best player on a night when he finally began to look
like the star United bought.

- The Daily Mail
 

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He has this cutting edge of delivering good crosses as a RB... At the moment, I really can't see much openinf for him to play as a starter in Midfield. The Money is well spent like I said somewhere before, he just need time.

Good Article RFR..
 

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I have just written the part about him in my matchday report so shall not repeat here.

Just hope the crazy bashing of Hargreaves would stop soon.
 

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Hargreaves leaves Cantona with a lasting impression

Source: Daniel Taylor/The Guardian, Thursday April 10, 2008

Up in the stand, the thick-set man with the greying beard and crumpled blue suit could be seen nodding in appreciation. Eric Cantona is a rare visitor to Old Trafford these days and he chose a good evening to make an appearance, even if the old rouge diable might have been disappointed that after all the hype about the latest incumbent of the No 7 jersey the attacking bite of Cristiano Ronaldo was kept on a muzzle.

Cantona always loved footballers who understood the importance of entertainment so he would probably have preferred to see a little more of Wayne Rooney as well. Yet, on a night of huge satisfaction for Manchester United, the Frenchman will have approved of what he saw from his old employers. Cantona always liked to do things with a certain style and panache and if, for example, this was his first look at Michael Carrick, he could be forgiven for wondering how a country that failed to qualify for the European Championship currently has no place in its national team for such an exquisite passer of the ball.
Carrick has been exceptional since the turn of the year so perhaps it was no surprise to see him pulling the strings in the centre of the pitch. For the man who partnered him last night, however, it has not always been so easy. "I like the No4," Cantona volunteered before leaving Old Trafford, and it was easy to understand why.

Owen Hargreaves played as though affronted by recent suggestions that his attitude, as well as his form, was not right. It was easily his finest performance of the season, a key part of a night that ended with the man in charge of the music playing Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé's version of the song Barcelona.

The home supporters could be forgiven for having goosebumps because Barcelona versus Manchester United is not merely a football match, it is one of the great occasions. With all due respect, Chelsea against Liverpool feels more like a struggle, one that brings back memories of Jorge Valdano's withering assessment of their last semi-final. "Chelsea and Liverpool are the clearest, most exaggerated example of the way football is going: very intense, very collective, very tactical, very physical and very direct," said the former Real Madrid coach. "But a short pass? Noooo. A feint? Noooo. A change of pace? Noooo. A one-two? A nutmeg? A backheel? Don't be ridiculous. None of that. If football is going the way Chelsea and Liverpool are taking it, we had better be ready to wave goodbye to any expression of the cleverness and talent we have enjoyed for a century."

Valdano, one suspects, would not be so pithy about this United side. The only pity, from a neutral perspective, is that Ronaldinho will be missing from both legs and that Lionel Messi is definitely out of the game at Camp Nou, along with Carles Puyol who was booked last night. Yet even without Ronaldinho and Messi, two of the most exuberant footballers on the planet, it promises to be a contest for the purists.

Even with Ronaldo on the substitutes' bench last night, there were plenty of examples of what the Roma players, wallowing in a vat of sour grapes, angrily perceived to be showboating in Italy last week. Take, for instance, the lovely little backheel from Carlos Tevez to send Hargreaves enthusiastically running clear midway through the first half.

The 7-1 defeat of Roma at this stage of the competition last season was widely recognised as the most devastating demonstration of attacking play since the Champions League's inception. Nobody expected it to be so one-sided this time but it says a lot about Sir Alex Ferguson's philosophy that his players were so committed to going forward. At Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night the fans resorted to plaintive chants of "attack, attack, attack". The Old Trafford crowd were more minded to worry that there was not enough protection for Gerard Piqué in United's makeshift defence. They need not have worried - Piqué was an impressive understudy for Nemanja Vidic.

This sense of adventure has been United's undoing in past Champions League fixtures but it is still difficult to find fault with a manager who sends out his team with instructions to make sure, first of all, that the crowd are entertained. A different manager - Rafael Benítez springs to mind, possibly Avram Grant and certainly Jose Mourinho - would have preached the need for caution, for smothering the opposition and, if necessary, running down the clock.

But Ferguson is seldom afflicted by the bug of conservatism. It is not in United's DNA to be dull. Even Hargreaves, a defensive midfielder by trade, could be seen surging forward to join the attack and, even if there were a few hairy moments at the other end, United's adventure eventually paid off with Tevez's stooping header.

It is a bold strategy but an admirable one too, and for anyone who wondered how Ronaldo coped with being left out of all the fun it is worth noting that he still managed to wind up the Roma fans. Thirty minutes after the game, with the Italians still locked in, he could be seen going through his repertoire of keepy-uppy tricks on the pitch - simultaneously waving to the away end.
 

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Nice thread we got going on here people!! I always loved Hargreavs and was always ticked off when people gave him crap not noticing it takes time for players to settle in like Evra did for example untill we get the very best of them and people seem to forget its Hargo's first season still!! He did excellent vs Roma and I cannot wait to see more of him!! He will come in real handy vs Barca :)
 

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........................Foster........................
Richards...Ferdinand...Terry...Cole

Beckham...Gerrard...Hargreaves...Cole

.........................Rooney......................
.........................Owen........................
 

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i've been his biggest critic. people said before he has played well this season and you don't notice the work he does. that's bs. last night was the first time he looked like an 18 million pound player. he seems to need space for his game but he is quite fast and delivers a good cross. in big games we could play.

hargreaves scholes carrick ronaldo

i would have never thought this at the start of the season. But when hargreaves plays on the offence it suits him more, and the more anderson plays offensive the worse he gets. he's betther breaking up play. imo.
 

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scott 4 evra said:
i've been his biggest critic. people said before he has played well this season and you don't notice the work he does. that's bs. last night was the first time he looked like an 18 million pound player. he seems to need space for his game but he is quite fast and delivers a good cross. in big games we could play.

hargreaves scholes carrick ronaldo

i would have never thought this at the start of the season. But when hargreaves plays on the offence it suits him more, and the more anderson plays offensive the worse he gets. he's betther breaking up play. imo.
I disagree with your first 3 lines. He put in a few Motm performances
at the start of the season and then he was unlucky with injuries.
He always needed a bit of time to be fair but we knew what he could
bring to the party. The fact he never got a decent run affected his game.

I agree with the 4 players that you think should be lined up for the big
games. Its great that Hargo can play anywhere and we are starting to see
what he can do playing wide right.

I totally agree with your last paragraph. Anderson looks better at breaking
up attacks rather than getting forward himself. After an excellent start to the
season he seems to be fading/tiring in the last few weeks/months.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
scott 4 evra said:
i've been his biggest critic. people said before he has played well this season and you don't notice the work he does. that's bs. last night was the first time he looked like an 18 million pound player. he seems to need space for his game but he is quite fast and delivers a good cross. in big games we could play.

hargreaves scholes carrick ronaldo

i would have never thought this at the start of the season. But when hargreaves plays on the offence it suits him more, and the more anderson plays offensive the worse he gets. he's betther breaking up play. imo.

Hargreaves certainly hasn;t been the missing peace of the puzzle Fergie led us to believe but he has played well before last night.

His crosses in the past few games have been great. Of course he could play on the right, but with his tackling ability it would be a shame for him to operate on midfield.

I still think he should be playing at RB when he can overlap Ronaldo and put in his brilliant crosses.

Next season's line-up

Rooney Huntelaar

Nani Carrick Anderon Ronaldo

Evra Vidic Ferdinand Hargreaves

Foster
 

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Great article Versa (post 6). I know a lot of people skim over articles but this is defo worth the read.
especially the last line about Ronnie lol
 

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Hargreaves has to 'manage' injury

Source: TEAMtalk

England midfielder Owen Hargreaves wonders whether he will ever be fully fit for Manchester United due to a chronic knee injury.

Hargreaves joined the Red Devils from Bayern Munich last summer, but has started just 14 Premier League matches.

He says there is little doctors can do to cure his patella tendon problem, and claims it could be years before he is fully fit.

The Canadian-born midfielder is keen to play every game for Sir Alex Ferguson's side, but knows competition for places at Old Trafford is fierce.

"It's something the doctors say I have to manage because when you get this problem it stays with you," he told The Times. "It's the patella tendon and it's different to most injuries. If you break something, that's easy.

"The bone or the ligament will heal. But the tendon is more complicated. It has to burn itself out.

"Sometimes it takes a few months, sometimes a few years. There aren't a lot of answers.

"I'd like to play every game but it's not possible and you have to say 'Hats off' to the lads who have been in the team ahead of me."




This is so sad to hear just after his MOTM performance against Roma.

So for all the unbelievers and detractors, please bear with an unable-to-be-fully-fit player......
 
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