Friday 6 December 2019

Desperate times and desperate measures

He's won the Champions League twice and has 42 England caps -- but after three years of injury, Owen Hargreaves is now reduced to plugging his wares on YouTube in a bid to resurrect his ailing career

A still from the
YouTube video of Owen
Hargreaves show the
former Manchester
United and Bayern
Munich player working
A still from the YouTube video of Owen Hargreaves show the former Manchester United and Bayern Munich player working out

Rory Smith

Owen Hargreaves has resorted to YouTube in a last, desperate effort to salvage his injury-ravaged career, adding a series of videos to the website in a novel attempt to prove his fitness to clubs considering recruiting him.

The 30-year-old was released by Manchester United at the end of last season after making just 27 appearances in his four years at Old Trafford.

A series of knee injuries and a case of chronic tendinitis restricted Hargreaves, who has 42 England caps, to just four appearances for Alex Ferguson's side since 2008, and the sight of the midfielder limping off just six minutes into his most recent comeback last November prompted suggestions his injury-enforced retirement was imminent.

But Hargreaves is determined to resuscitate his career and has chosen YouTube as his medium to advertise his abilities to potential suitors.

His decision represents either the most innovative or embarrassing approach to the transfer market since Michael Owen's agents WMG circulated a brochure detailing their client's record prior to his move to United in 2009.


On his own dedicated channel on the video-sharing website, Hargreaves' representatives have uploaded 18 videos, all showing the former Bayern Munich midfielder performing various fitness routines while recuperating in Vancouver.

The footage shows the player testing his groin and hamstrings, as well as proving he is fit enough to undergo a number of running exercises. Only in one short video is Hargreaves filmed doing any work with a ball, with much of the emphasis on his knees.

Hargreaves is working with Dr Alex McKechnie, the Scottish-born LA Lakers medical guru, whom he consulted over a seven-week period last year -- undergoing intensive 'movement re-education' -- prior to that ill-fated appearance against Wolves at Old Trafford.

Despite his illustrious career, which has included two Champions League trophies -- one for Bayern and one for United -- as well as four Bundesliga titles, Hargreaves' fitness troubles have been so serious that his availability on a free transfer has provoked little interest. Both Toronto FC and West Ham are believed to have considered pay-as-you-play offers, but no bid has materialised.

Instead, the player is thought to be prepared to document his progress throughout the summer in the hope a club will invest its faith in him.

His decision will not trigger quite so much ridicule as that of Owen's representatives to produce a glossy brochure for the former England striker after his contract at Newcastle expired two years ago. Describing the player as an "athlete, ambassador and icon," the 32-page document was circulated to potential employers in an attempt to disprove the suspicion that the forward was injury prone.

As well as listing his achievements, Owen's brand values were laid out, with the player variously described as 'clean and fresh', 'good-looking', 'articulate' and 'fit and healthy'. It is not known whether any of these values persuaded Ferguson to sign the striker later that summer.

In contrast, Hargreaves's self-marketing is considered. He will continue to work with McKechnie in an attempt to cure the injuries which have plagued his career, problems which McKechnie attributes to the player's "deep default posture".

"We had to bring his body to a neutral posture through core movement," said McKechnie in October. "To get to where you want to be, you have to re-educate movement and correct the posture. That change takes four to six weeks. Continuously, for the first three to four weeks, Owen would work in front of a mirror and never come away from it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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