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This Is G-Owen Nowhere



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A lot is being made about Michael Owen’s new hamstring problem, but Manchester United supporters should be more frustrated at the other injury news.

Without being able to hear his behind-closed doors pre-match interview, there had to be a sense of frustration in tone of Sir Alex Ferguson’s voice when he admitted that there will be even more of a prolonged absence for Owen Hargreaves.

The United midfielder has faced yet another setback, and does not look like he will be playing for potentially another month, so is it time to cut our losses?

For some reason or another, though, Hargreaves continues to get a pass from the majority of the United supporters, and its quite baffling as to why he is as well.

He has literally played a lonely 30 seconds in the last 25 months, and in that time on the pitch, he never touched the ball against Sunderland at the end of last season.

Even counting that sorry, short-lived appearance, Hargreaves has only made 38 appearances since arriving in the summer of 2007, which is equivalent to one Barclays Premier League season.

Whether it is because he plays for England, or his combative versatility, Hargraves has the vast majority of United fans still thinking it was okay that our cash-strapped club spent handsomely £17 million on him and paid him another £10 million in wages.

This cannot reflect poorly on Ferguson, though, because when he was fit, the curly-haired midfielder was quite instrumental in the 2007/08 domestic and European success.

The Canadian-born England international scored a humdinger of a goal against Arsenal to inspire us to the Premier League title, and coolly converted one of the penalties against Chelsea in the 2008 UEFA Champions League final.

There have been players before him, Louis Saha in particular, who wore the United boss’ patience thin as a rail.

Even Saha would play every so often, and many people often forget that it was his dominating performances and goal contribution in the 2005/06 Carling Cup, which led to United’s first piece of silverware in almost two years.

In all, Saha produced 42 goals in a 120 appearances for Manchester United, which 0.35 goals-to-game ratio, which is not a bad return for a highly-criticized forward.

United’s No. 7 on the other hand, gets ridiculed whenever he picks up an injury that keeps him out for a couple of weeks, and that is really a “pot calling the kettle black” mindset.

The great thing about Michael’s down time, is that he is on a very heavy incentive-laden contract, which his base wages around £50,000 per week, which is peanuts for a modern-day, top-class finisher.

When someone factors in that he did not cost Ferguson a dime then United are not taking a hit by him being out injured, but some cannot look passed the fact that he was a Liverpool player.

Just think, while he was at Newcastle United he was getting a £100,000 a week whether he played or not, and the ever-so vital goals that Owen has scored more than paid for his wages last season.

People need to be grounded mentality, and truly ask themselves: Even if he was fit and available, would Owen being getting into the United squad?

The answer is very doubtful, because of the form of Javier Hernandez, and the acknowledgment of Ferguson that he can ill-afford to leave Dimitar Berbatov out of the United starting XI in a crucial match.

It is clear that Ferguson did not bring him to play every week, and if asked, Owen would have to be humbly admit that he cannot physically do that as well.

Double standards exist in our everyday lives, but it is quite unfair for the Manchester United supporters to label one Owen as a hindrance and give the other one free pass, because Michael and Hargreaves share more than just their common name.

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"The United Religion: A Manchester United View From Abroad," www.theunitedreligion.com, is a blog that delivers an American perspective on one of the world's most successful football clubs. Since I have an opinion about anything and everything, I decided to put many of my off-the-wall ideas as well as passionate feelings about the ongoings of United into words. In my writings, you will discover that I do my best to back up all of my outlandish opinions, and finicky analysis with statistical and/or factual evidence. If you wish to publish any of the articles, or have any questions, please contact me directly at theunitedreligion[at]gmail[dot]com.