Farewell Carlos Tevez: United's Loss Is City's Gain

nigel smithCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2009

ROME - MAY 27:  Carlos Tevez of Manchester United reacts after Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League Final match between Barcelona and Manchester United at the Stadio Olimpico on May 27, 2009 in Rome, Italy. Barcelona won 2-0.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Striker Carlos Tevez will play for City next year after agreeing a five-year contract with  the Blues.

"My record of success speaks for itself," he said. "From helping West Ham to avoid relegation to helping Manchester United to two Champions League finals in two seasons. That's not a bad record!"

So farewell Carlos Tevez.

You leave United after the club's failure to negotiate a £25 million transfer deal with the company that holds your registration.  

Red Manchester's loss is Blue Manchester's gain. Manager Mark Hughes couldn't be more delighted.

"It is terrific news," he told the official club website. "Carlos is an international player of the highest class who possesses all the attributes that will help drive this club forward.

"He is not only outstanding technically but he is a reliable goalscorer and someone who will contribute fully to the team ethic. He gives us another exciting, attacking dimension."

From Sir Alex, your former manager, there was nothing but a flea in your ear and the clear hint that you and your people negotiated in bad faith.

"I half-expected Carlos Tevez would be going a long time back," said Ferguson. "I think he maybe did a deal around January because I spoke to him and gave him an offer on the night we played Inter Milan and he never came back to me.

"I phoned him on holiday and he never got back to me and I texted him twice and he never got back to me then either, so obviously he had made his mind up a long time ago.

"He was a good player and did well for us. But he obviously assessed the situation and wanted to go somewhere else."

Indeed you did Carlos because despite what you said in public, perhaps you never really felt Fergie appreciated your talents.

Let's face it, the karma between club and player was terrible from the start.

It was clear that you would not be hanging around east London once you became famous for "single-handedly" keeping West Ham in the Premiership in 2007 and you were quick to declare your intentions.

“There is a very good chance I will be playing in Italy next season," you told the press in June of that year. "I am also wanted by Real Madrid and some other clubs in England but I have already made my decision and I prefer Inter."

A week later and you had narrowed down your selection with precision. “I would like to play at Real Madrid, but I have yet to hear anything from them.”

Hmmm! Unfortunately, United’s record where you were concerned was no more impressive. The club's spokesmen flip-flopped over you like natural born politicians.

In September 2006, Chief Executive David Gill informed BBC radio listeners that United had no interest in you, despite the frenzied speculation of the summer that you would leave Buenos Aires' sunshine for Cheshire drizzle in a heartbeat. "From Manchester United’s perspective, Tevez was never on the shopping list,” Gill said. "We were never interested in Tevez."

By June 2007,  after your starring role in West Ham's great escape, United had changed tune. Sir Alex was happy to blow kisses in your direction through the media. Some called it tapping up.

“He is the one who lifted their game. He scored a couple of really good free-kicks and seems to have a lot of enthusiasm,” the manager said, making plain his admiration.

Not long after, you were on the club's payroll but the confusion and misunderstandings remained.

The deal that took you to Old Trafford specified that United were only hiring your services on a temporary basis. A permanent deal would cost the club £25 million. All those familiar with United's accounts laughed out loud.

If the maths didn't add up, it seemed that the football chemistry was remiss also. Many doubted that your partnership with Wayne Rooney could work. You were both short forwards, with styles that bore too great a similarity. You both seemed to do your best work in the same parts of the field. The critics whispered that you had been signed only because Dimitar Berbatov was unable to strong-arm Spurs into a transfer.

Yet, with your trademark application and resolution, slowly you pulled it round. Popping up to score the winner at Anfield and in Lyon really helped cement your blooming relationship with United fans.

As tireless aggression became your trademark and the goals flowed, it wasn't long before you were being showered with praise.

"Carlos reminds me of Eric Cantona in the way that he has a knack of rising to the occasion with a goal just when it's needed," Ferguson wrote in his programme notes for the home Champions League quarter-final match against Lyon.

"He often comes up with the goods away from home when you are up against it. I don't think anything fazes him and he keeps his cool in the box.

"Tevez is proving a master at scoring the really important goals—the ones that give you a win or a draw, especially away from home."

The manager was happy and so were his players.

"He [Tevez] is a key player for this Manchester United team," declared winger Cristiano Ronaldo in the aftermath of a blistering 6-0 victory over Newcastle. "He is fast, aggressive, passes the ball well, he makes things happen and scores goals.

"I call him a complete player. It's incredible the speed with which he has adapted to our team and his progress on the field can be seen by everybody."

There was more backslapping as United took the Premiership and Champions League titles in your first season. Your contribution and crucial goals were important. The sceptics were slayed and now you wanted your reward—a new permanent deal.

"Alex is very good with me and I really feel he loves me as a person," you told the Sun newspaper last September. "I cannot ever imagine leaving Manchester. I am in the perfect situation. My family is settled and very happy in England and my relationship with the club is perfect.

"Patrice Evra is my closest friend but the feeling I get from all the players is something I've not experienced before. I want to get the contract sorted and play for United for the rest of my career."

United ensured that the positive mood music continued, slipping word to the press at regular intervals that the club wanted to sign you and was ready to do the deal with Media Sports Investments, the company that owned your registration.

Suddenly, the waltzing to  'Come Fly With Me'  stopped, replaced by a looped death metal chorus and hard stares from opposite sides of the room as United swooped for your nemesis Dimitar Berbatov.

You must have known that the game was up. You found it hard to control your feelings thereafter.

The constant player rotation was as upsetting as the rare starts alongside the kids in Carling Cup fixtures and the run-outs in low-wattage league games. You worried aloud that you had regressed as a player and no longer possessed the razor sharp marksman's instincts of old. Your goals tally seemed to bear out your point.

As 2009 began, you were taking your fight with the club to the United public. In turn, a sheepish United were talking about "moving on".

"I didn’t like him [Ferguson] saying I didn’t like the offer I was made because neither my agent [Joorabchian] nor me were given one,” you told the Times newspaper. “I don’t know anything on my future. United know they must pay if they want me to stay.”

And that was the heart of the problem. With the pound falling faster than Jordan's pants, the size of your transfer fee looked even more mountainous. Though both sides sought out the media high ground with public protestations that the marriage was still alive, the private reality was anything but.

You scored a marvellous goal against your new employers last May and another to all but seal the title for United at Wigan. However, by now the gulf between player and club was too great. At the very last, United sincerely wanted negotiation having concluded that your agent couldn't be strong-armed into accepting new terms but the relationship with the club had soured beyond redemption.

Now the squabbling is over. You leave United as a fans hero, vowing to shoot down your old team when next you meet.

"I know that Ferguson did not respect me as a player," you moaned to sympathetic press men. "Before Berbatov arrived in Manchester, Ferguson told me, 'You will still be the starting striker, so be cool'. But he lied to me!

"What I want to do next season is score against United. I promise I will not celebrate in front of the United fans but I will shout in Ferguson's face. You can be sure of that—and it will be one of the most beautiful things I have done in football."

Your pain is evident. It is a shame that matters have come to this because you were a terrific player for the club. If truth be told though, you just weren't worth the money in these indebted times.

Trouble is, there's no available forward out there who is better than you.

You might just have the last laugh after all.

Carlos Tevez, United hero, I salute you.


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