Things are currently so mad at Manchester City that their supporters have been dreaming of Carlos Tevez scoring goals this past week, the Argentine forward a loathed enemy for so long yet soon to be a loved friend of the Eastlands faithful.
A player cherished at Old Trafford has moved to the bitter rivals across town and has almost immediately been taken to heart. The concept seems crazy, but after delving deeper into Tevez’s nature on and off the pitch, it is easier to understand how this former foe has become a friend so quickly.
Tevez has shown whilst playing for West Ham and Manchester United that he never stops running, chasing opponents, and trying desperately to win the ball back during matches. “His work ethic and honesty make him instantly likeable,” says one City fan who has been observing Tevez’s hard-working traits in past seasons.
While Cristiano Ronaldo waltzed back towards the halfway line half-paced when the opposition gained possession, Tevez would tear back and hassle opponents into giving the ball back to United. That’s why the fans loved him. That’s why City supporters gathered in such high numbers and cheered him so loudly on his arrival at Eastlands. That’s why they will continue to love him despite his United history.
Tevez can play a bit too. City fans know that from firsthand experience after Tevez curled in a 25-yard beauty in last season’s Manchester derby.
The Argentine has a history of poaching vital, and often late, goals that have helped United’s title pushes immensely in the last two years. His ability to be in the right place at the right time was particularly highlighted in his critical strike against Wigan at the end of last season, when he showed astonishing trickery and ingenuity to backheel in a miscued Michael Carrick shot.
Tevez made such a contribution to West Ham’s survival previous to his United stint that some even said he was the sole reason they stayed up, prompting a string of high-profile court cases surrounding his illegal transfer to Upton Park. Tevez can make that much of a difference to one team when he plays regularly.
Tevez’s style of play is not to lead the line as a conventional striker, but to drop deeper behind a leading frontman and to get involved in link-up play before surging into the box to try to get on the end of crosses.
Tevez needs there to be a targetman in front of him to play at his best, so Manchester City’s signing of Emmanuel Adebayor from Arsenal could prove to be the perfect acquisition as Mark Hughes looks to build a formidable striking force.
Adebayor is excellent in the air and so will be able to flick balls on to Tevez, who enjoys trying to get in behind opposition defences, as well as advancing midfielders like Robinho, Gareth Barry, and Stephen Ireland. Holding the ball up is another of Adebayor’s strengths, allowing time for others to get upfield and join attacks.
Adebayor and Tevez’s contrasting styles suggest they could gel quickly at City and dovetail extremely effectively up front, but the former Arsenal striker should beware that he must put right some flaws shown up at Arsenal before City fans will take him to heart in the same manner they have done to Tevez.
Adebayor undoubtedly has a strong array of footballing talents, but regular viewers of Arsenal say he was too often below his best last season, drifting in and out of games and missing golden chances more than in previous seasons.
Adebayor was booed by Arsenal fans at the start of last season after reportedly attempting to engineer a move to AC Milan during the summer, and for the remaining months of the campaign he often appeared to be strolling around rather than giving his all for the team. Fans accused him of being lazy and lackadaisical, so it is no surprise to see the striker move from The Emirates.
City fans may give him more support, but Adebayor will have to earn it. The Togo international will have to show the same commitment that Tevez shows if his name is to be sung as loudly as the Argentine’s at Eastlands. If Adebayor can improve his work rate and continue his fine goal-scoring record, then he should be a prominent member of City’s glittering cast of attacking stars.
If Tevez and Adebayor gel as a partnership, then Mark Hughes has a lethal striking duo on his hands. If all goes well for the pair, the only people disappointed at City will be Craig Bellamy, Roque Santa Cruz, and Benjani, strikers who may be sitting on the bench a little more than they want to this coming campaign.