Manchester United just concluded their 2016-17 Premier League season and in many ways, it was one of their most forgettable campaigns in recent times as Jose Mourinho could only push the team to a 6th spot finish in the top tier English League.
Finishing in the 6th position of the English Premier League is not good enough for a club to qualify for the UEFA Champions League but Manchester United was able to win the UEFA Europa League of that same season and are automatically qualified for the Champions League of the upcoming season of 2017-18.
Unfortunately for Jose Mourinho, one of his star players sustained an injury which left him unable to perform for the final stages of the season and this was what occurred with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
This injury forced the Portuguese coach on having to play the final 7 matches of the season without the Swedish attacker.
Wayne Rooney continues to underperform and now there are a number of players that have been linked with a potential move to Old Trafford including: Antoine Griezmann, Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala just to name a few.
According to the former Manchester United player and current pundit for BT Sport, Owen Hargreaves has revealed his thoughts on which attackers should Jose Mourinho focus on signing during this approaching summer transfer window as the 36 year old Canadian pundit said:
´´You have to look at what you have and what you desperately need. I think they need a Dybala-type player. Everybody speaks about Griezmann, I think Griezmann would be terrific. But I think Dybala, he’s a little bit younger, he’s going to be a superstar if he isn’t already. He would be magnificent. That star power that Ibra bought, I think Dybala could bring that as well.”
Owen Hargreaves also went on to praise the 19 year old rising star Marcus Rashford as the retiree stated that Rashford has what it takes to become the next big attacker for Manchester United but he still needs more time to fully develop himself as a player.
Former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves claims that the club lack the ability to win matches whenever Zlatan Ibrahimovic does not feature.
The Swedish striker has been a huge presence for the club this season. He has scored 28 goals in all competitions, and he is expected to be nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award. After having cost United nothing to join from Paris St Germain, he is already looking like transfers of the season – especially in comparison with Paul Pogba, who cost an astronomical £ 90 million. However, the presence of Ibrahimovic has been the only positive factor, as United have not been able to get performances from elsewhere across the pitch.
The likes of Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Martial have been disappointing this season. The lack of goals from these forwards coupled with players like Paul Pogba not contributing much in terms of goals has meant that Manchester United have been over reliant on the 35-year-old striker.
Owing to the lack of contribution from other players, it is looking highly unlikely that the club will be able to secure a top four finish at the end of the campaign. The club are currently four points behind Manchester City, who are in the top four place.
“Besides Ibrahimovic, Pogba, Herrera and Mata were out which is a lot of quality missing. They have got the most draws – if they could have turned those three or four draws into victories, they would genuinely be in the top four or competing for the title. They created tons of chances against West Brom – conversion is an issue for Mourinho when Ibrahimovic is missing,” said Hargreaves, who has the experience of winning Premier League titles. It is widely believed that José Mourinho will make significant changes to the squad in the summer in order to start challenging for the top honours.
Owen Hargreaves credits Antonio Conte for making those players look world-class whose abilities were questioned in the past.
Hargreaves says people were not sure if somebody like Marcos Alonso was up to the standard of the Premier League, if he belonged to this level, but, he is making such a hell of a lot of difference under Conte and has been the reason of several of Chelsea’s wins.
So, it’s actually the credit of the coach that he is taking 100% out of each individual who is at his disposal.
Hargreaves however refuses to declare Chelsea the certain Premiership winners at this stage.
Despite so many wins coming back to back for Chelsea; Hargreaves, who himself played in the Premiership for 5 years, is not convinced just yet that the title is well and truly in their grasp.
The former playmaker reckons the Blues can still lose the race.
As per Hargreaves, Chelsea has had the services of its main players available throughout the season so far and that’s why they are cruising, but, they will actually be tested when they have a couple of injury issues.
Singling out the Hazard-Costa duo, Hargreaves says if any one of those two is taken away from the eleven, the strength of Chelsea will decrease significantly because those two are of a different class and the other players playing at their positions can’t make the same impact that they are making.
Before Hargreaves, Jurgen Klopp had also talked about the same thing some time back and had suggested that Chelsea, which is way ahead in the points’ standings right now, may not have a cake walk in the second half of the season with their players due to get injured at some point of time.
Former Manchester City player Owen Hargreaves believes that despite the fairly slow start of the season that Manchester United has been going through; they still have a realistic opportunity of becoming the new champions of the Premier League.
Out of the 11 league matches that Manchester United has played so far, they have gathered 18 points with 5 triumphs, 3 defeats and 3 draws. This is not an extremely underwhelming start of season but Jose Mourinho and his squad have dropped a significant amount of points against opponents that they were expected to come out on top with a victory.
On October 2 of 2016, Manchester United locked horns with Stoke City in a match that concluded in a draw and 27 days later they had to settle with yet another tie but this time when facing off with Burnley.
Neither Burnley or Stoke City are considered to be title-contenders while Manchester United were one of the clubs that were initially expected to lift the Premier League, especially with the arrival of Jose Mourinho as the Portuguese is a manager with huge ambitions but these recent results have seen Manchester United slowly slipping away from the top spots and they are currently positioned at the 6th spot.
Even though Manchester United has been slipping away and losing a considerable amount of points, Owen Hargreaves believes that Jose Mourinho and his men still have a realistic chance of emerging as the champions but only if the Portuguese coach utilizes his best players as Hargreaves says:
“I think they can win the Premier League if Mourinho plays his best players. The team right now as it is won’t finish in the top four.”
Owen Hargreaves was known as a vigorous and solid defensive midfielder who worked tirelessly to win the ball and maintain possession.
However, his time at Manchester United was laden with injuries and he was allowed to leave the club having completed his contract in June 2011.
Jose Mourinho has tried different formations since his switch from Chelsea to Manchester United, yet the team is yet to stabilize. Owen Hargreaves has thus suggested the use of a different one.
The former Manchester United player suggested Jose Mourinho should play a 4-3-1-2 formation if he is to reignite Manchester United’s season as the former coach, Sir Alex Ferguson did.
The Red Devils suffered their third successive defeat at Watford on Sunday 18th of September followed by three consecutive victories in all competitions before their unlucky 1-1 draw against Stoke City which landed them in the 8th position on the Premier League table.
The Portuguese tactician seemed uncertain over his team’s formation at the beginning of the season. The Old Trafford dwellers appeared to begin the campaign in a 4-3-3 system but that changed to 4-2-3-1 in the consequent matches, amid a growing clamour among supporters for Wayne Rooney to be withdrawn.
Hargreaves, a key player of United’s Premier League and Champions League double-winning side in 2007/08, claims he would retain Wayne Rooney while suggesting this 4-3-1-2 best XI formation, up front in a partnership with the Sweden international, Zlatan Ibrahimovic who joined them at Old Trafford this season.
He said Henrikh Mkhitaryan should be bought to reinforce United’s right wing, and also as a playmaker in front of a midfield three of Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba.
“The back four can then include Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw in front of David de Gea.” Hargreaves advised.
Former Manchester United and England midfielder Owen Hargreaves has stated that Arsenal can win the Premier League title if their new players adapt quickly to the pace of the Premier League.
He said that the team already had a good squad last season and that they only needed a few players added in order to turn into genuine title contenders. Speaking before the start of the season, Owen Hargreaves said that Arsene Wenger needed to add three players to the side, and the club would turn into title contenders.
Arsenal managed to sign two players before the end of the transfer window, and Owen Hargreaves believes that these players should definitely improve the team. Mustafi is a German international that will add more quality at the back while Perez will definitely help boost their attacking options up front.
However, Owen Hargreaves believes that it will all depend on how quick they can adapt to the pace of the Premier League. He said that the new players seem a bit lost in their first game and that it is normal that they will need time to adapt to their new surroundings. It is important that they adapt quickly if the team wants to challenge for the Premier League title.
Owen Hargreaves believe that the Premier League will be highly competitive this season with all the big teams investing massively on new players and that all the big sides should be prepared to lose games. He believes that Arsenal has a good chance to win the title as they already have some good players since last season and that the addition of some new players should definitely improve the team.
He said that his former club Manchester United also has a good chance to win the title especially with a manager such as Jose Mourinho.
Former Manchester United player Owen Heagreaves commented on the number of permutations in European football since the release of the results for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League (UCL). Arsenal is set to play French Champions Paris St. Germain, Swiss outfit Basel and Bulgarian club Ludogrets Razgrad.
Heagreaves opines that the French club will finish above their English counterparts, mostly die to their superior play. However, he acknowledged that Arsenal would be a worthy opponent during the battle for the Round of 16.
“I think they [Arsenal] can, but I think PSG will top that group. Arsenal can push them if they get it right,” Heagreaves told BT Sport. Something worthy of note is that Arsenal have never won the Champions League, despite their stellar domestic record. Even when they had the arguably the best team in the world, they were stopped from breaking the record. One notable final is the one against Barcelona in 2006.
Arsenal would be in action in Group A when the continental affair begins after the international break, but the former Bayern Munich man sees them finishing in second place. Two clubs would be able to progress to the next stage – which is fine – but they might meet a tougher opponent. In recent times, Arsenal haven’t gone past the Round of 16 at the UCL.
The same Heagreaves revealed that his best Champions League atmosphere was the Celtic Park. The Scottish side would be playing in the tournament group stage though they have a big obstacle to climb if they are to make the knockout stages. Their neighbouring city Cardiff, Wales would be hosting the final, but it would be the biggest dream if they were to make it to the final. Brendan Rodgers would be leading the team when they line up in the continental tourney.
Kyle Lafferty’s career in Norwich City has not been a very memorable one as the Irish forward joined the English club on June 27 of 2014 and he managed to make 18 appearances but only scoring 1 goal, Lafferty was later loaned out to the Turkish outfit Çaykur Rizespor and then to the English club Birmingham City.
The 28 year old player has made his return to Norwich City but he is struggling to get consistent playing time with the main team and goals are even harder to come by.
To make matters worse for Lafferty, his lack of goals might be the last thing on his mind as he has recently been charged by FA as it’s believed that the Irish player has allegedly broken betting rules.
According to FA, Kyle Lafferty breached rule E8 which prohibits players from betting on football matches and an official statement from Football Association reads: ‘’It is alleged that on 20 February 2016, the Norwich City forward placed a bet on the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, a football match or competition in breach of FA Rule E8’’
Even though Lafferty’s club career is underwhelming, he has been doing a surprisingly good job with his national squad after scoring 7 goals during the qualification phases of the 2016 European Championship.
Newer and stricter rules have been implemented by FA in relation to betting and things of nature. These changes started taking place around 2 years ago and one of the main reasons of this is to avoid seeing controversial results involving players and clubs.
Lafferty has until August 5 of the ongoing year to respond with this charge and provide some evidence or anything that might help him escape this recent breach of rules that he has allegedly broken.
Whenever there is an international tournament in the world of football most people do not realize the pressure that exists on the players.
One such side to Euro 2016 is being talked about by Owen Hargreaves. He reiterates the pressure that he felt in a penalty shootout that is common in many matches.
He states that he has a record of not having missed a penalty kick for his team in a competitive football match. There are many firsts in his career such as having played for England without having been a resident of the country present or before. Having belonged to a club of the non English league, he has helped his team to win the UEFA Champions League.
Penalty kicks and shootouts have been mastered by this player. He has considerable experience and success as an international player as well, having played for teams like Manchester United and Bayern Munich. He has been a midfielder in these matches; he talks about the experience of a shootout or a penalty kick. As per him, such times are crucial as the game stops to play and everyone is concentrating on the kick. There is a lot of mental pressure on the player who is chosen to kick the ball.
Owen can identify with the mental pressure as he has been in such a situation many times. He also talks about remarkable moments for other players. For instance, there was a tie in the quarter finals with Portugal and England. Frank Lampard had to take the first kick for the spot and he missed it. Even Ronaldo faltered in the finals of the Champions League in 2008 when the game had been played in Moscow. Hence, it definitely requires a lot of nerve and mental strength to hold steady and focus on such moments. Owen can certainly identify with the same.
Owen Hargreaves believes that Louis Van Gaal was a scapegoat for Manchester United poor form.
Former Manchester United and England midfielder Owen Hargreaves has said that Louis van Gaal is not responsible for the poor results at Manchester United. He believes that the board should blame themselves for the poor season.
Owen Hargreaves believes that Manchester United is a club in decline and that they currently do not have the best players. For him, the best players in the Premier League play at Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal. He said that it is the board that is responsible for signing new players and that Louis van Gaal cannot make miracles.
For Hargreaves, the club is just looking for excuses and has sacked Louis van Gaal for nothing. He said that first it was David Moyes who was the culprit, and now they have found another scapegoat in van Gaal.
He believes that there need to be changes in the club management if they want to challenge for the title soon. He said that the board should sit down and think on what is not functioning at the team at the moment. For him, the club should rethink about their philosophy and sign players that can play according to their style. At the moment, there is a lack of quality players at Manchester United, and they need to rectify this issue. He said that with the players they have got now, there is no way they are going to win the title.
Jose Mourinho has just been appointed as the new manager of Manchester United, and he will be hoping to build a team that will suit his stye. So far he has signed Eric Bailly to improve his defence, and there is news that he might be signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic soon. According to some pundits, there will be more arrivals as soon as the Euros is over.