City’s best summer signing is a little closer to home
Manchester City caught the attention with a flurry of late transfer activity as manager Roberto Mancini’s kicking and screaming at their lack of movement in the market finally paid off, but it’s a player a lot closer to home that could prove to be the cliched ‘new signing’ for the club this term.
Carlos Tevez is a bit of an idiot, there’s no getting around that fact – whether it be going on strike for months, disrespecting any manager that’s given him a chance in the game, or his petulant remarks to the media, but that doesn’t detract from what an exceptional footballer he is.
His record since making the move across Manchester is nothing short of remarkable – he boasts 50 league goals in just 82 games and 60 goals altogether across 102 first-team appearances – a record that perhaps only Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney could eclipse in the same time frame.
Tevez told reporters upon returning back to his homeland this week of how he has fallen in love with the game again: “I am focused on my club and on the Premier League and the Champions League. This is what I wanted – to have this hunger for success back again. The disagreement with Roberto (Mancini) has ended up being good for me because it has helped give me back this hunger. Before, I was playing just to attract the attention of the national team manager, now I’m playing for the enjoyment and because I have that desire to win things. The national team is not my priority. I am concentrating on my club. I have had my first good pre-season in four or five years and I feel good.”
So far this campaign, he has three goals in three league games, one in the Community Shield, not to mention an assist and he has played a large part in the club taking seven points from a possible nine from their opening fixtures. Having lost a reported stone in weight during pre-season this summer, the Argentine cuts a lean, slim figure, which coupled with his phenomenal work-rate and clinical finishing mark him out as one of the top flight’s finest talents and he certainly falls into the bracket ‘world-class’ when he’s in such shape and form.
With Edin Dzeko still looking a bit too slow for the Premier League to be a guaranteed regular and Mario Balotelli, well, being his usual inconsistent self, it’s crucial that Tevez continues to shine in the absence of his fellow countryman Sergio Aguero, who is out through injury for the next month.
The club chased Robin van Persie and Eden Hazard this summer before seeing both players opt for moves elsewhere, joining rivals Manchester United and Chelsea instead, and you always suspected that they only ever really needed the arrival of the Dutch striker in particular, if they were still looking to shift on Tevez. He’s an extremely temperamental player, but for the time being at least, he’s integral and while Van Persie would have tipped the balance even more in their favour in terms of being title favourites, they still have a strikeforce which the envy of most of Europe.
Manchester City spent the siezeable amount of £54m this summer, as manager Roberto Mancini reinforced his defence with the acquisitions of Matija Nastasic and Maicon, while bolstering his midfield options with both Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia, while Scott Sinclair replaced Adam Johnson. The result is that the squad now has a much more rounded feel to it, and the top-heavy balance is no longer there.
That the club were able to emerge as champions last season without Tevez for long periods, with the 28-year-old making just 13 league appearances, is a testament to the strength in depth of the club’s squad, which has since been improved upon. They look a much more tactically fluid outfit this term, with Mancini still experimenting with a 3-5-2 formation, which the arrival of Maicon, although he may well be past his peak, should help with.
A lot has been made by some (myself included) of how better prepared their bitter rivals Manchester United will be this season after the return of captain Nemanja Vidic to help marshall a ropey backline, but a fit, firing, and most importantly, happy Carlos Tevez has the potential to make just as big an impact on the destination of the league crown come May.
You can follow me on Twitter @JamesMcManus1