“The World Cup is an incentive. Absolutely. But I need to see progress now, pretty quick, for the World Cup to become even a realistic option.” These are the words of a certain Owen Hargreaves. This option may be ridiculed by many fans but I see enough quality in Hargreaves for him to be seriously considered- providing he can feature in every one of the three remaining matches that Manchester United have left.
There are possibilities that this can happen because he was in the match-day squad for the game at Eastlands last weekend, even though he didn’t make it as one of the seven substitutes. Therefore, that could be a hint that he will be involved in some way against Tottenham, Sunderland and Stoke for United. Hargreaves must have been through hell since September 2008 – his last professional appearance – and if ever there was a selfish desire inside of him than his scenario is perfect: he can claim to be fully fit and would be the freshest player in the 23-man squad that travels to South Africa.
That thing about the glass being half-full, not half-empty, comes in to play here. People are well within their rights to question the fact that he will have hardly played any competitive game this whole season but I see it differently for a player of Hargreaves’s quality. I reckon he’s worth the risk because his way of performing in midfield is different to the back-up players to regulars such as Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry. Hargreaves is the one England midfielder that has the ability to play the game in a ‘continental’ style having been one of the few successes of an English player playing abroad- and this is crucial in a global tournament where all sorts of tactics, formations and styles will have to be encountered.
Michael Carrick, James Milner and Jermaine Jenas are the central midfielders available but I see Hargreaves as better than all three. Yes Milner is having a great season but when have Carrick and Jenas ever had a great match for England? Hargreaves can tackle better, pass better, read the game and has tremendous energy. In addition to that, he is a more than useful option as a free-kick taker. Hargreaves is like a three-in-one out of the names mentioned above. He excels at protecting the back four better than any other player in the squad, and seeing as that was always the much talked about position with England than who better to show that once again he is the answer to that role than Hargreaves?
Hargreaves has been through it all with the national team. Often made the scapegoat, booed on countless occasions during the early years of his international career and came through that to be voted England’s player of the year and was arguably the best performer in an average 2006 World Cup for the Three Lions. His game has increased in all aspects that he is a very good right-back- a problem position for England, and would add invaluable experience to the squad. Even if he appeared as a substitute to what looks like a settled midfield than what a sub to have. One Owen may be watching this summer’s tournament whilst he’s on holiday somewhere, but this Owen is worth taking as he is genuinely one England player who has met the demands and expectations of international football.
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