The Libero - Tevez makes his point to Ferguson
Published: 20 Jan 2010 - 07:29:53
"Fergie sign him up, Fergie, Fergie sign him up". How those words must be ringing in Sir Alex Ferguson's ears the morning after Manchester United's 2-1 Carling Cup defeat by Manchester City, during which Carlos Tevez made the most emphatic of points to his former boss.
The same words have been directed at Ferguson for some time now; it has been the best part of a year since they first surfaced at Old Trafford as United fans urged him to pull out all the stops to keep the striker at the club.
Those pleas fell on deaf ears and Tevez swapped red
for sky blue in a highly acrimonious move that served to further divide
the city of Manchester and help reignite the fierce rivalry between the
two clubs. The intensity of that rivalry was there for all to see at
Eastlands in the explosive first leg of Tuesday's semi-final.
- Man City 2-1 Man Utd
- As it happened
The pre-match hype had worked its magic on most of those involved, although it was Tevez in particular who stood out as the most fired man up on the pitch - the Argentinian clearly had something to prove to his former employers. And he didn't disappoint.
Amidst a typically high octane performance, full of willing, energy, hassling and harrying, Tevez netted both goals - one a fortuitously awarded yet emphatically taken spot kick, the other a simple header - to put City into the driving seat ahead of next week's second leg, and take them one step closer to a first final appearance since 1981.
Who knows if Tevez is too bothered about City's agonisingly long wait for a trophy - currently standing at 34 years - but what was clear for all to see was how much his brace meant to him on a personal level. Both times the ball hit the back of Edwin van der Sar's net, a scowling Tevez made hand gestures directed at the United contingent, the second time running half the length of the pitch and clearly directing a cupped ear towards the visitors' bench where Ferguson was stationed.
It was as antagonistic a celebration as the one which landed fellow City striker Emmanuel Adebayor in hot water earlier in the season and one which Ferguson, like the Arsenal fans at whom Adebayor's knee slide was aimed at, cannot have failed to notice.
But just in case he had, the City fans rammed the point home with the ironic airing of the aforementioned ditty, which has become as familiar at Eastlands this season as it was at Old Trafford last.
Before the game, Ferguson conceded that City may not just be the noisy neighbours from across town he had previously considered them to be. It is not often the United boss admits an error, of judgement or otherwise, but he may now also be forced into admitting that he missed a trick in allowing Tevez to leave last summer.
To say that Tevez has been solely responsible for City's emergence as a club Ferguson now perceives as a threat to his own is slightly over-egging his worth, but he has certainly made a significant contribution to their season so far. Seventeen goals since his departure from Old Trafford, including 13 in his last 11 appearances, provides the starkest proof.
Meanwhile across town, the absence of a second striker who can find the back of the net with any kind of regularity for United has been glaring so far this season. Would Tevez have been the man to do that?
During his time at Old Trafford the jury was out on his compatibility with Wayne Rooney and question marks remain over whether two such similar players can play alongside each other.
But Tevez's electric recent form, culminating in Tuesday's goal feats and subsequent taunting of his former boss, must surely have prompted Ferguson to at least reflect on the wisdom of letting such a player slip through his fingers.
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- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
- Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.
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