Manchester United had drawn their opening two games of the season, after a summer of excitement and talk of retaining our title, before making their trip to the Council House to play City. Dr Death had allowed Sven-Goran Eriksson to splash out in the transfer market and the bitters were talking up the game for the whole week before. For the first time in years, they actually felt they could win before kick off.
City proceeded to get absolutely battered. We had 14 shots to their 7, 60% of the possession to their 40%, and essentially, played them off the park. However, we could do nothing to counteract the deflected Geovanni goal from the first half. Wayne Rooney had got injured in the first half of our opening game against Reading and Louis Saha was obviously suffering with a knee injury. That left new signing Carlos Tevez as our only striker. He had been brought in to the fold too soon, after going a month without any football due to the transfer saga which swallowed up his summer. The Copa America and had long since finished before Tevez was pulling on his United shirt to face Portsmouth, required to fit in straight away to plug the gap of the injured Rooney. He was miles off the pace.
After looking second rate, struggling to keep up with the pace of the fast moving derby game, a perfect opportunity arose for him to redeem himself. In the last minute of the game, Ryan Giggs delivered a corner which flashed across the face of goal, falling to Tevez, who surely just needed to make straight on contact and it would have left the net bulging. No direction was needed, just let it hit you, and it will go in. Somehow though, as United fans jumped for joy, Tevez missed. The jeers from the City fans came as we returned to our seats. How did he miss?
Since then, as Tevez has built up his match fitness and understanding with his new mates, he has gone from strength to strength. He bagged his first goal against Chelsea at Old Trafford, this time putting away a more difficult header, which again came from a Ryan Giggs ball. Two weeks later, he broke the deadlock against Wigan, before we went on to score another three goals. Another two weeks pass, and Tevez bags two against Middlesbrough in our 4-1 victory, one of which looking as though he had some kind of telepathic connection with strike partner Wayne Rooney. Just over a week later, Tevez got his first Champions League goal for United against Dynamo Kiev. We had to wait almost three weeks for his next goal, the equaliser against Sporting Lisbon, before Ronaldo went on to score the winner in injury time. A week later, he was on for his hatrick again, scoring two against Derby at Old Trafford. When Ronaldo won a penalty in injury time penalty, Tevez thought he was in for a shout of taking it. No chance.
Scoring a goal against Chelsea is one thing, and something that is much appreciated by the United faithful. But nothing can really be compared to scoring a goal against Liverpool. At Anfield. In front of the Kop. Step forward Carlos Tevez. Ryan Giggs played the ball in to Rooney from the corner spot, who was left completely unmarked on the edge of the area. Rooney rifled the ball in to the box, leaving Tevez, who was also unmarked, to flick the ball past Reina.
Since then, he scored our only and winning goal against Birmingham, and for the third time already this season, scored two goals in a game, this time against Newcastle. This takes his goal tally up to 12 so far this season, with his 10 league goals making him the fifth highest scorer in the league. It is not just his goals however, but his assists as well, with a total of 7 so far, making him 4th highest provider of goals in the league.
As the months have gone by, with Ronaldo scoring every week, I have noticed Tevez looking rather irritable at times. When Ronaldo rifles over the bar from a tight angle, Tevez is left planted to the spot, pointing at where the ball should have been played. When Ronaldo claimed the penalty against Derby for himself, instead of allowing his team mate the opportunity of his first United hatrick, there was talk Ronaldo being selfish. “ARGENTINA!” the crowd chanted as held the ball, and mock booing ensued when he put the ball on the spot. Was there a slight rift between the two players?
When Tevez scored against Birmingham on New Year’s Day, he was playing as a lone striker. Saha still not ready and Rooney out with illness, apparently. Tevez and Rooney have gelled so nicely, with the pair providing goals for each other on a regular basis. There has been the odd questioning over whether Tevez is as good without the support of Rooney. However, Tevez scored a blinding goal against Brum, this time, Ronaldo setting it up, providing a similar goal to the one against Middlesbrough.
Today, Ronaldo has heaped the praise on Carlos Tevez, claiming he is the complete player. “He is a great player,” said Ronaldo. “He is fast, aggressive, passes the ball well, he makes things happen and scores goals. I call him a complete player. It’s incredible the speed with which he has adapted to our team and his progress on the field can be seen by everybody. He is a key player for this Manchester United team and we hope he carries on in the same way.”And is there a rift? “He is calm, very reserved,” Ronaldo said, of Tevez’s nature off the pitch. “He is a good friend but most important is what he does on the pitch for our team.” With 34 goals between them this season, they really are showing that doing the business on the pitch is important.
Now, back to Ronaldo’s comments about Tevez as ‘the complete player’, a compliment not thrown around too often. A player who can pass, score, assist, a player who has speed, presence and passion, and essentially, one that makes all the difference to your team. I personally would say that was a better description of Rooney than Tevez, no matter how much I like our Argentinian.
Would you describe Tevez as the complete player?