Disliking players from your own team, the team you love and adore, is an odd feeling. Kieran Richardson probably brought about the strongest feelings of dislike I’d had from one of our own, probably worked up by all the other reds I spoke to, but still a rational enough feeling. He saw himself as Jonny Big Balls and didn’t have the attitude we expect from players who have come through the ranks. I was glad to see the back of him.
Before him, I had grown tired of the likes of David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy, but I wouldn’t even say I’d gone as far as disliking them at the time of their departure. Their career with us had run its course, they had been by and large totally dedicated, and had been very important players for us.
Cristiano Ronaldo has brought about a difficult situation for me, and plenty of other reds, by splitting us with his incredible ability but his dreadful behaviour. I don’t need to go in to detail over how the events of last summer, his lack of effort for the team this season and his refusal to commit to next season have bothered me, because I’ve made that known. Whilst I can acknowledge that we probably are better having him than not (the effect his attitude and lack of effort might have an effect on his team-mates weighs the other side of the scales against his brilliant talent), I can’t say I’d be too disappointed if we sold him for a load of money this season if we see a repeat performance of last summer.
To have one player in your team that you’re not fond of is difficult enough, but when it becomes two, you’re in trouble.
Carlos Tevez has won all of us over in his two year stint with the club, thanks to his brilliant effort and good ability. He works hard for the team and seems to have a real connection with the fans. Throughout his first season we just assumed that at the end of the two-year loan we would definitely make the agreement permanent. What could possibly stand in the way?
Then we signed Dimitar Berbatov and suddenly Tevez’s future wasn’t as clear as it had been. Sir Alex Ferguson sensibly started Berbatov in pretty much every game. Berbatov hadn’t gone through a pre-season and had never played with our team before, so it was essential that he got as much game time under his belt as possible.
Rooney, Tevez and Berbatov all started in the Bulgarian’s first game for United and the first three minutes were fantastic. We ripped Liverpool apart at Anfield and it looked as though they were in for a thrashing. The first goal came when Berbatov perfectly pulled the ball back for Tevez to strike. This was just what we had been looking for! However, things quickly turned sour, United just seemed to give up, Berbatov picked up a knock, Vidic got sent off, and United lost 2-1.
United’s next league game was away to Chelsea and Berbatov started up front alongside Rooney. Tevez was on the bench and didn’t get to come on, something which, he later confirmed, annoyed him.
Our next big(ish) game came away to Everton, where again Rooney and Berbatov started up front, with Tevez coming on as a sub in the 78th minute. Then our trip to the Emirates, Rooney and Berbatov to start, Tevez coming on in the 77th minute. Then derby day at Wastelands with Rooney and Berbatov starting, Tevez on the bench, and Giggs being preferred to replace Berbatov in the 83rd minute. This game came three days after Tevez bagged a hat-trick for United in the League Cup. Our next big game was Chelsea at home, with Rooney and Berbatov starting (and scoring) whilst Tevez was an unused sub. Then Everton at home where Tevez started in place of an injured Rooney.
Then as the season turned and got to the important phase, Tevez was used more often. Berbatov had been given plenty of opportunities to gel with the team by now and it was time for Tevez to get more matches. As well as helping Berbatov fit in, had Sir Alex also been conserving Carlos for what he regarded the most important stage in the season?
Tevez started and played the full game in our League Cup final against Spurs. He started and played 90 minutes of our next home game against Liverpool in March, with Berbatov coming off the bench for Park in the 74th minute. He started and played 87 minutes in our following home against Aston Villa. He played for the length of our FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. He started in the European Cup semi-final against Arsenal. He started on derby day, at the expense of Rooney. He started our crucial last home game against Arsenal.
Had Tevez not started any of the important games then I would understand his frustrations better. As it is, he has spent over half the season primarily on the sidelines to accomodate for a new player who had to adjust to being in the team. Since then, he has played in and started plenty of our crucial games. After all, Tevez was our first substitute in Rome, whilst Berbatov didn’t come on until midway through the second half.
So Tevez’s attitude and the reaction of the fans towards him has started to grate on me. I hated that during Sir Alex Ferguson’s end of season speech after the Arsenal game, the Stretford End, then several other parts of the ground, shouted the manager down. “Fergie, sign him up!” they bellowed, to the point where Ferguson could no longer be heard, but, clearly embarrassed, struggled to make his voice heard. It was awkward and disrespectful.
I’ve hated hearing Tevez speaking to the press time and again about his unhappiness with the ‘way he has been treated’. You can understand why he would be unhappy with the amount of time he’s played this season in comparison to last, but there’s no understanding for him to repeatedly go to the press with it. Is that the way you treat a club you want to stay with, slagging them off constantly?
It seems to me as though Tevez has ideas above his station. Ruud van Nistelrooy behaved in the same way towards the end of his United career, not prepared to let the in form Louis Saha start ahead of him, but even that was more understandable than Tevez’s behaviour. No disrespect to our favourite Argie but van Nistelrooy was a fucking brilliant player so it made more sense that he was disgruntled at being dropped. He scored 150 goals in 219 games, so whilst I don’t condone his sulking, it does make more sense. For all Tevez’s hard work, his brilliant finishing, and important goals, he’s hardly the best there is, if we’re being honest. I love his attitude to the game and he’s been an important player for us but he isn’t in any position to throw his dummy out for not playing every game. Cristiano Ronaldo is about the only player Ferguson plays for every game, with Rooney and Berbatov both missing out on big games this season. And let’s get real, Carlos Tevez is no Cristiano Ronaldo.
So, where does this leave us then? Do we want Tevez to go to City or Liverpool or anywhere else? Or do we want him to stay?
If his problem is lack of playing time, then that problem will be solved to some extent next season. Whilst Berbatov is likely to be favoured more often than not, Tevez should get more matches now that the Bulgarian is better settled. But if Tevez’s problem is he wants to start more often than not, then that problem will not be solved and he would be better off leaving. It is no good to hear him whinging every time he misses out on a game against Chelsea or a final.
When I feel wound up by the situation, like immiediately after he has just bad-mouthed the club, I want him to go to City. I want him to trade in his medals at United for the money and playing time of City. See how much he has to whinge about then, when he’s playing for a team whose fans don’t sell out the ground every week and whose trophy cabinet has been empty for 33 years and counting.
But in reality, the best situation from here, unless we can talk Kia down to a more reasonable price, is to let him go, and hope that a club abroad present a more appealing offer for him than any Premiership team. I would like him our squad next season but I won’t be heartbroken if he leaves. The only frustration about him joining City or Liverpool would be the mocking that would come with it. It wouldn’t take long for the chants about us not being able to afford him or him choosing their club over ours, both of which aren’t true, to start. That would be irritating. And to see a player who has had such a strong connection with our fans wearing the shirt of our biggest rivals would be gutting. The chants of “Fergie, sign him up!” would become an embarrassment to us.
Regardless, it’s a strange and totally foreign feeling to me, not liking our own players. But I suppose it’s something we’re going to become more used to. I know Chelsea fans who hate Drogba, Liverpool fans who hate Lucas, and Arsenal fans who hate Bendtner. It’s the changing face of the game.
This mess should all be sorted out sooner or later. It would be nice if we could agree a reasonable deal for Tevez, but equally, I’m not going to be too arsed if we don’t. He hasn’t impressed me at all recently and his attitude would have to change if he was going to fit in to the squad in the long-term. Listen to Park or clear off gracefully and quietly, please.