Like most United fans, I have become increasingly frustrated, as well as anxious, over the limited playing time Carlos Tevez has been afforded since the signing of Dimitar Berbatov.
We all knew that players were going to lose out on minutes on the pitch once the deal had gone through, but I don’t think anyone imagined it to be quite to the extent as it is with Tevez.
With the long term contract for the player yet to be finalised, should we be worrying that he’ll leave us for sunny Spain in the summer?
He played for 13 minutes against Arsenal as the third substitute to come on. He played for 26 minutes against Hull, after United had already gone 4-1 up and he wasn’t really needed. He played 90 minutes against West Ham. He played 12 minutes against Everton as the third substitute. He played 24 minutes against Blackburn. He played 71 minutes against Bolton. He played 90 minutes against Liverpool.
So in the past seven league games, he’s played for a full 90 minutes on just two occasions. In the remaining five games he has started just one, averaging less than half an hour playing time in each match. Surely this isn’t enough to keep him interested?
David Gill announced in the summer that the deal should be done before Christmas, which puzzled me. Why wait so long to formalise something which we all know has to happen? It just gives too much room for error, with Tevez hearing a few whispers he’d be better off joining Real Madrid and the like.
However, if the past 22 years have taught us anything, it is that Sir Alex Ferguson is no mug. There have been countless occasions where we have been up in arms over a decision from the manager, only to concede we were wrong a few months/weeks/days/minutes later that he knew what he was doing. Why sell Hughes, Kanchelskis and Ince all in one summer and replace them with kids? Why bring on John O’Shea for Wayne Rooney at Anfield? Why get rid of David Beckham and put some spotty, skinny Portuguese teenager in his place? The list goes on and on.
So far, all we’ve heard is the club, player and his representative insist that a permanent move will be organised. Of course the club is going to say that, but would there be any real reason for Kia Joorabchian to be so certain, considering Real Madrid or AC Milan can splash the cash much more generously than Manchester United?
We have to rely on the fact that our manager knows what he’s doing. Not because he’s flawless but because he wants to ensure we have the greatest team possible before he leaves, and that means keeping Tevez. He wants to beat Liverpool’s title record, he wants another European Cup to his name, and he knows he needs at least three quality strikers to do this.
It is important to remember that we don’t know the ins and outs of what goes on behind the scenes. Whilst Tevez was visibly disappointed to be subbed off against Celtic during the week, we should assume this is because he wanted to score before he made way, not because he is deciding enough is enough and he’s off. Ferguson has obviously spoken to the lad and told him what’s what. He has a future at the club but he has to be patient for now. We have to assume Ferguson has reminded Tevez of all the minutes he got on the pitch when he was a new signing, to allow him to adapt to our style of play and bond with his team mates. That is exactly the process Berbatov is going through now.
The games will be coming thick and fast over the next few months, with the benefit of three top class strikers really coming in to play. To compete for the league and FA Cup, as well as the Champions League, the rotation of these three forwards will be essential. Knowing that we can chop and change three well adjusted and competent players will make the second half of the season that bit easier. The faster Berbatov gels with the team, the sooner Tevez will get his starting place back, on more occasions.
Ronaldo may not be here next season, but Carlos Tevez certainly will be.