I was fortunate enough to be one the 68,000 at Old Trafford yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed getting to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer off. Of course, with Ole now working with the Reserves, there was no need for a tearful farewell.
For me, Carlos Tevez was easily the best player on the park. Whilst Solskjaer showed some class and came close to scoring, Tevez was hungry for the ball from start to finish. He seemingly effortlessly took on three players at a time, his fast feet and ability to run with the ball leaving the Espanyol midfielders and defenders looking entirely out of their depth.
I was shocked then to see a report in The Telegraph this morning, which paid no tribute to Tevez’s brilliant performance, but instead slagged him off good and proper. Ole himself barely got a mention. Was Mark Ogden watching a different game?
“Carlos Tevez lucky to avoid red card at Ole Gunner Soskjaer’s testimonial game” read the headline. “Carlos Tevez was fortunate to escape a red card as Manchester United toiled to a 1-0 victory against a belligerent Espanyol side” read the introduction, and it continued:
Tevez shoved Espanyol captain Daniel Jarque and then pushed the defender in the face after being felled by a crude tackle from behind a minute before half-time.
Jarque was booked by Norwegian referee Terje Hauge for his challenge on Tevez, but the United forward escaped punishment for his reaction to the foul.
Having lost both Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney to three-match suspensions following red cards in the pre-season Amsterdam Tournament two years ago, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will doubtless be relieved at Tevez’s good fortune in avoiding a similar ban.
Now, let’s get things straight. Tevez had left Jarque looking like mug, moments before beating him for the ball, despite being surrounded by Espanyol players. So the opposition’s captain, frustrated with Tevez’s skill, ran over and deliberately took our player out, kicking out at him.
Tevez lay on the deck for some time, his team mates unaware and continued the attack, with Paul Scholes almost scoring. When he got back to his feet, he confronted Jarque, with the two players putting their hands in each others faces. Had this been a regular match, then we might have reason to complain, however, had this been a regular match, Jarque wouldn’t have been on the pitch for Tevez to challenge, with a certain red card being awarded for his nasty challenge.
Tevez wasn’t throwing a tantrum or behaving in a way different to what the fans would expect of him. After seeing him felled, Old Trafford cheered when Tevez was on his face, charging down the little bastard who’d intentionally hurt him. “ARGENTINA! ARGENTINA!” bellowed around the stadium.
At worst, it was handbags, with Jaque’s violent reaction coming from the fact Tevez did him, and Tevez’s frustration coming from the fact he could have suffered a horrible injury in what was supposed to be a ‘friendly’.
So, maybe I’m just a biased United fan? Well, I wouldn’t be overly alarmed to find out that Ogdon, who was in South Africa following our pre-season, was a red, with the vast majority of his content focussing on United. So why launch such a scathing attack on Tevez, who from most accounts, not just my own, was the best player on the park?
The Times report was certainly kinder to our player. “There had been some niggle, principally involving Daniel Jarque, who seemed intent on hurting Carlos Tevez.” The Manchester Evening News didn’t even include the Tevez incident in their report, an indication of what a fuss over nothing Ogdon’s article is.
This match was about Solskjaer, a true legend who was forced out of the team because of injury. It’s unfortunate that anyone would choose to overlook this for the sake of a more eye-catching headline.