Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Carlos' Journey

Carlos Tevez grabbed the back pages of every newspaper yesterday, so why not mention him here? A stunning hat-trick for the in-form Argentine put paid to a poor Blackburn side and propelled Manchester City into the much coveted fourth champions league spot. So after his controversial move across Manchester, is Tevez starting to prove worthy of his £30 million price tag?

The tenacious forward has not endured a particularly normal life; affectionately named ‘Apache’ in Argentina in reference to his upbringing in the trying surroundings of Fuerta Apache, he has come a long way. Fuerta Apache is one of the most dangerous slums in Buenos Aires with high crime rates and a population of over 17,000 in just 4,000 residences. Football was his only way out. A fact emphasised by his infectious work rate. Tevez now finds himself in starkly contrasting circumstances... but what a journey he’s taken!

Tevez began his career at Boca Juniors, the club he supported as a boy. During his three seasons at La Bombanera he won the Copa Libertadores, the Copasudamericana and the Intercontinental Cup. An impressive record for the much revered ‘Apache’ but no league title, something that Tevez himself alludes to. Although quotes attributed to him this season regarding retirement were presumably tongue in cheek, Tevez points to a title with Boca (along with the World Cup with Argentina, of course) as his career goals. If he was to decide on a return to his native Argentina and play out his days at Boca, who could blame him?

Tevez has been one of very few players in the modern game uniquely owned by a company, not the club he’s representing. However, ever since Tevez’ commitment to Media Sports Investment and in particular Anglo-Iranian Kia Joorabchian, he has endured nothing but turbulence and controversy. Having been pushed into a shock move to Brazilian giants Corinthians in 2004, Tevez later refused to play and demanded a move, allowing MSI to cash in once again. Tevez was a commodity, an object used for the benefit of those who owned him. Parallels can be made with the way Tevez’ national team coach Diego Maradona (whom Tevez described as the 21st century prophet) was treated throughout his career. Ill advising and little consideration for his own needs often left Maradona the unfortunate victim of his own controversy. However Tevez, like his hero, has battled to pursue success doing what he loves most.

Next stop for ‘Apache’ was Upton Park. I doubt he’d even heard of West Ham; he certainly didn’t choose them. As news broke on Sky Sports of the move, the football world’s proverbial jaw dropped. The boy from BA suddenly found himself in East London; hablas Espanol? Still, at least he was accompanied by his equally bemused compatriot, Javier Mascherano (also owned by MSI). Following a slow start at Upton Park and with Mascherano left out in the cold, Tevez inspired West Ham’s great escape culminating with the winning goal to beat Manchester United on the final day of the 2007 season. Lifelong veneration at Upton Park secured, but it was Old Trafford on loan Tevez was heading.

Although the ongoing controversy surrounding West Ham’s survival seemed unfair on Tevez (illegalities in Tevez’ move to Upton Park gave Sheffield United reason to appeal), he had a highly successful first season at United. Partnering the mercurial Wayne Rooney, Tevez scored crucial goals to help deliver a league and Champions League double. However, the signing of Dimitar Berbatov left Tevez warming the bench in his second season at Old Trafford and after relations soured between Tevez’ advisors and the club, Tevez waved farewell to his adoring fans with another Premier league medal to his name. Sir Alex Ferguson went on record saying he didn’t believe Carlos Tevez was worth the £30 million required for his signature; cue a shock move across Manchester to bitter rivals City, where Tevez would finally be free of the stranglehold of MSI.

Yet again Tevez has won over the fans with not only a bulldog-like work rate but a goal ratio to boot. 12 goals in 19 games and 10 in his last 7 suggests he was worth the big money. By my book, or more United’s debt ridden books, Ferguson simply couldn’t afford him. And with Owen and Berbatov regularly firing blanks, how they might miss him.

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