SIR Alex Ferguson is hoping Owen Hargreaves' man-of-the-match display at Old Trafford on Wednesday can become a regular occurrence.
Ferguson has finally outlined Manchester United's hopes of prising Hargreaves away from Bayern Munich before the 31 August transfer deadline.
With Bayern desperate to hold on to the 25-year-old, Ferguson has left chief executive David Gill with the tricky task of trying to conclude negotiations for the player, whose desire is to complete the move and has demanded urgent talks with Bayern to that effect. Ferguson saw Hargreaves in action on Wednesday, when he produced an energetic performance in England's hammering of Greece, further enhancing a reputation which has risen dramatically since the World Cup began two months ago.
"What we saw on Wednesday was not a surprise to me," said the United manager. "We have known about Owen since we first came across him in Bayern's centenary match when he was only 18 or 19.
"On that night, he played on the right wing. When he played against us again he was at right-back. Now he is in a settled position, which he enjoys. He has started to mature and his performances in the World Cup emphasised that."
However, Bayern have reiterated their stance regarding Hargreaves.
A statement from the Bavarian club declared: "FC Bayern has informed the player and his agent in no uncertain terms that the contract with the club until 30 June, 2010 is to be honoured."
Although it is thought United would be willing to pay upwards of 15 million for Hargreaves, Ferguson expressed hope rather than confidence about the deal being done.
Efforts to bring Villarreal's Marcos Senna to United remain on hold until United get a firm indication as to their chances of concluding the Hargreaves deal, although Ferguson acknowledges Ruud van Nistelrooy's decision to join Real Madrid ahead of Bayern this summer is now working against them.
"We would have preferred Ruud to join Bayern because that might have helped with Owen's situation," admitted Ferguson.
"We have reached a bit of a deadlock but the boy wants to come to us, which helps and now we are trying to find a mechanism to get the deal done."
Ferguson will be without injured defenders Nemanja Vidic and Gabriel Heinze for their first league game against Fulham tomorrow.