Carlos Tevez is underrated and underappreciated for reasons both beyond and within his control.
His sport is preciously referred to as the "Beautiful Game," but Tevez's game usually ranges from ordinary-looking to a little bit hard on the eyes.
That is not his fault. Certainly most strikers would like to make scoring goals look as easy as Lionel Messi or, to a far lesser extent, Robin van Persie. Tevez is never going to be that graceful. Watching Tevez play, all tireless runs and constant cuts, can exhaust you even as you sit watching from a lounge chair.
And the goals he scores often have all the grace of a baseball bat going through a windshield.
But what does that matter? There are no columns for style points on the statistics sheet.
The pessimist would note that it has taken Tevez far more games and minutes played than Aguero to score that many goals. The cynic would note that Edin Dzeko has more goals (12) in far less time on the pitch.
That argument works in both directions, though.
Manchester City entered the season with the expectation that the team would struggle to keep four strikers (Tevez, Aguero, Dzeko and Mario Balotelli) satisfied with playing time.
So it was. But while Balotelli talked himself out of Manchester and Dzeko talked himself onto the bench, it was Tevez who put in the longest and hardest shifts for City—especially while Aguero nursed this injury and that.
A medium-depth look at the season statistics shows that Tevez is doing much more than just scoring goals this season.
Tevez is tied for the team lead in assists with world-class set-up man David Silva. He leads the team in both shots taken and shots on goal.
Before you say "anyone can take a bad shot," think about how many times you have wished for a player to take a shot, only to see a low-percentage pass fail and a threat go begging. For a great striker, there really is no bad shot.
Tevez is taking a beating, too, as he is tied for the team lead in fouls drawn with Yaya Toure. Ask yourself which of those two players is better built to get fouled repeatedly and keep going.
No commentator is going to spend much time telling you that Tevez is on the short list of team leaders in all of these categories not called "goals scored." There is no real juice in talking about shots on goal, fouls drawn or even assists. But these plays all matter.
While it is no fault of Tevez that his contributions goes unnoticed, his being a knucklehead is absolutely his fault.
Did he really refuse to play in a Champions League match? "Misunderstanding" or not, that episode in Munich threatened not just to tarnish Tevez's reputation—it almost began the end of his time at the Etihad.
Roberto Mancini minced zero words after the incident (per the Guardian article):
It may not be my decision but if I'm deciding then, yes, he goes. For me, if a player earns a lot of money playing for Manchester City in the Champions League and he behaves like this – he cannot play again. Never.
"Never," of course, turned out to be about six months. Tevez scored four goals in 10 games after returning, and though he was not on the pitch for the goal that won the league, the fact that Mancini started Tevez against Queens Park Rangers that day put in bold type the respect Mancini had for his game.
It was just too bad Tevez could not get through the victory parade without doing something stupid.
The constant undercurrent of drama, and the perpetual threat that he will personally derail, may be the ultimate reason why Tevez is sometimes overlooked for what he does with the ball in play.
It might be fairer, though, to focus on the following facts.
Tevez was the best player on the 2010/11 Manchester City side; the offense ran through Tevez and his 20 goals. Not coincidentally, that team broke a 35-year trophy drought.
Tevez went absent without leave for much of 2011/12, but his return to the team alluded to above roughly coincided with City chasing down Manchester United for their first Premier League title in 44 years.
Tevez has been City's all-around best striker in 2012/13, and his team will be heavily favored to win another FA Cup and to finish second behind a United side that ran away and hid from the rest of the league.
Carlos Tevez does not get nearly the credit for City's success that he should.
Whether it is his fault or not.
All stats taken from ESPN.com.