When Henrik Larsson was signed on by Manchester United, the media had no clue what to make of it. Some praised the move, others opted to wait and see.
Still others, jealous fans no doubt, derided Manchester United for signing ‘yet another’ Old Age Pensioner, and some leading fan sites talked about Larsson being a sign that Manchester United had no money.
10 weeks later, every critic has been effectively silenced – Not only do United have the money (as their intents to buy Hargreaves and a striker next season have shown), but Larsson’s loan capture was unarguably the best transfer of the January transfer window.
On the pitch, people will argue that Larsson didn’t score enough goals. But like Scholes and Carrick, Larsson’s role in the team is so much more than just goals – he links up play, he’s an enormous influence in training, he’s a true role model for younger players to look up to and when he has plenty of experience to help his team mates learn from it.
Wayne Rooney, when asked about Larsson’s impact, gushed on about Larsson’s high levels of commitment even at the age of 35. At Larsson’s age and stage of his career, his influence was always going to be more behind the scenes than on the pitch. He also served as an effective first-choice striker as Ferguson rested Saha (that move backfired with Saha’s injury though).
A great player – imagine what might have been if United took on Larsson before he went to Celtic, or even before he went to Barcelona?