To say Carlos Tevez has divided opinion in football circles following his public declaration of his desire to leave Manchester City would perhaps be an understatement.
But what can’t be denied is the importance of the Argentina international’s role in the club’s most successful season in decades, as his 24 goals in all competitions helped the mega-rich side to a third-place finish in the Premier League, with a piece of silverware in the long-barren trophy cabinet at Eastlands to boot.
It’s simple; when Tevez performed last season, so did City. Roberto Mancini’s side didn’t lose a single game in which the striker scored during the 2010-11 campaign, drawing just two of those matches, away to Birmingham City in the Premier League and at Leicester City in the FA Cup.
Things didn’t start brilliantly for the 27-year-old, though. Selected by Diego Maradona in the Argentina squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and saluted as one of the first names on the team sheet by the South American legend, Tevez found the net twice in the tournament, but his country bowed out at the quarter-final stage, humbled 4-0 by a free-flowing and impressive Germany.
|"Carlos has been such an important part of this team over the last two years that he’s going to be virtually impossible to replace. I mean, how do you replace Carlos Tevez?"
- Manchester City defender Micah Richards
It took the striker three games to make his mark in action for City, too. After holding on to a goalless draw against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on the opening day of the season and failing to score in the Europa League, Tevez opened his account with two goals against Liverpool. The first was from close range and the second was a header of minimal contact, but the Argentinian was off and running.
The goals, scored in front of Sheikh Mansour on is first visit to the stadium he owns, were unspectacular and City stumbled through another three weeks without winning a game, before Tevez embarked on a scoring spree of five goals in five games, coinciding with an unbeaten run for Mancini’s side that would last until the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal on October 24.
The workhorse forward continued to pick up goals into December, when personal issues took hold and matters would come to a head for the Argentinian. Tevez, who had previously revealed a dislike for his profession and a lack of motivation, released a statement declaring his desire to leave the club due to a breakdown in communication with “certain executives” and that he had wanted to exit Manchester in the summer.
Just a couple of weeks later, however, the club released a statement of their own, in which it was explained Tevez remained fully committed to City and the matter was settled. That the striker went on to score two goals against Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Boxing Day suggested this could well be the case, with a further eight strikes in eight games following, culminating in a first-half hat-trick against West Brom, on his birthday no less.
|MOMENT OF THE SEASON
| PREMIER LEAGUE:
MANCHESTER CITY 3-0 STOKE CITY
|In the penultimate game of the season, Tevez scored a wonderful solo effort before completing the victory with an astonishing free-kick to send his side into an automatic Champions league qualification spot.
Tevez had picked up injuries and was afforded some time away from the club to see his family during the second half of March, but returned in April to help guide City into the top three, with two sensational strikes in a 3-0 victory over Stoke City. It was the final game of the season at the Etihad Stadium and Tevez, the captain, was substituted in the closing stages to rapturous applause as he appeared to wave goodbye to the fans.
Tevez had been prolific in the FA Cup too and played as City lifted their first major piece of silverware for 35 years at Wembley Stadium, again against Stoke.
The summer has raised fresh doubts regarding the striker’s future as he once again made public his wish to leave the club, with City signing his compatriot Sergio Aguero, seemingly preparing for Tevez’s exit, while a move back to South America with Corinthians failed to materialise, but could resurface in January. Tevez has also intimated he may not continue to play long enough to feature in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, such is his feeling of apathy for football.
"It’s simple; when Tevez performed last season, so did City. Roberto Mancini’s side didn’t lose a single game in which the striker scored during the 2010-11 campaign"
Some call him greedy; a mercenary led by the motivations of men close to his ear who are more interested in lining their pockets than improving the career of the player on the pitch. But one thing is for sure; it would be a huge blow for City to lose Tevez, a player whose performances last season were as captivating as anyone’s over the course of the 2010-11 season.