How on earth will this man push through the ranks at Manchester City?

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One of the biggest shocks of the culmination of the transfer window was injury-plagued Owen Hargreaves’ move across to the blue half of Manchester. Having played just four times in three seasons for Manchester United, questions arose as to why Manchester City would take such a gamble on the midfielder. Since the conclusion of the contract, City boss Roberto Mancini has openly stated that the club only signed Hargreaves because he was a ‘cheap option’, which is not exactly inspirational news for the player to hear. So how should Hargreaves react to this confidence shattering statement?

After City’s summer of enormous spending and in light of Fifa’s financial fair play regulations, the club stated that they had no money to buy any more players, and would have to work with loan or free deals. Hargreaves provided the perfect bargain option for City, who promptly announced that they only brought the former England international in because they couldn’t afford Fernando Gago or Daniele De Rossi.

To find out that you’re somebody’s third choice, and have only been signed as a ‘cheaper option’, is not really what anyone wants to hear. Although Manchester City also praised Hargreaves’ quality, their statement just seems utterly baffling. For a player so short on matches and fitness, his confidence must be extremely brittle, and stating this in public is downright stupid, and poor man-management by Mancini.

There is no doubt that Hargreaves is a quality player, and that he will provide strength in depth for City over a busy season for them. He gives Mancini a different option in the centre of the field, and will provide excellent back up for starting anchormen Nigel De Jong and Yaya Toure.

However, in order to get the best out of Hargreaves, City need him physically fit, and more importantly, mentally strong. For someone with dented confidence after his persistent injury problems, and lack of a new offer from Manchester United, this is hardly the kind of statement that will inspire him to great things.

What Hargreaves has to do now, is prove Mancini wrong, and shake off the ‘cheap option’ label. He has to use the rather disrespectful statement to inspire him to perform to his highest standard, proving that he is much more than just a bargain replacement. He has to turn the statement into a positive and use it to achieve his best level. Perhaps it will even bring out the best in him, and prove to be a cunning master-stroke from Mancini. It is all about how Hargreaves reacts to it, and how he deals with it, whether in a positive or a negative way.

Certainly Hargreaves has enormous mental strength and resolve to have recovered and battled back from serious injury problems. However, the amount of time he has spent off the field is enough for little doubts to have crept into his mind. He bears the scars of the past, and is probably quite fragile right now, so statements like this and his omission from the Champions League squad are hardly going to inspire him to great things at City.

Written by Lauren Rutter for How do you think Owen Hargreaves should react to being labelled the ‘cheap option’ at Man City? Let me know your thoughts below or follow me on Twitter @LaurenRutter for more comment and debate. are seeking new writers to join the team! If you’re passionate about football, drop us a line at “” to learn more.

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  • johnny avi says:

    well he chose to go there when there were other clubs who wanted him.

  • bluemoon70 says:

    There is another way to look at this. If Mancini and City had come out and said Hargreaves was an important player for them, this would have put added pressure on Hargreaves to rush to be fit and to immediately produce once he is. Why would they want to do that, when in reality, City do not need the player. Better to take pressure off of him, and if he performs well, great. This is not some 19 year old kid with no history of playing at the top level. No, Hargreaves is more than aware of what he is capable of when fit. A player who shops himself on Youtube obviously has at least a bit of confidence in his abilities. I think City is handling Hargreaves fine.

  • It's Grim Oop North says:

    Sky News were reporting injury concerns to Gareth Barry and James Milner, not to mention Nigel Dejong’s continuing absence ‘thru injury, so perhaps it is not such a difficult task for Hargreaves to make it into City’s team?

    I wouldn’t concern yourself over how Hargreaves’ fragile mental state can cope with public and private slights on his fitness and ability, he’s a big boy now and can look after himself I’m sure.

    I would imagine Mr Mancini will turn his career around for him just as he’s turned City around – have some faith.

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