Football’s Great Chokes

Football is a funny old game. One minute your team looks like they have a match or a league title in the bag, the next it can escape their grasp. The term ‘choke’ is synonymous in sporting circles with people or teams that are in a commanding position but suffer a meltdown mentally, losing their composure and consequently the match or competition. With the United States choke against Panama in the Gold Cup fresh in the memory, I have decided to look at some of the famous footballing chokes over the years.

AC Milan, Champions League Final 2005
The Champions League final is the biggest stage in world club football and AC Milan and Liverpool contested the 2005 final in Istanbul, Turkey. The game was a story of two choking sides, firstly Liverpool were the team to freeze up as they were overawed by the occasion and let in a soft goal in the first minute to veteran Italian defender Paolo Maldini. From there Rafa Benitez’s team conceded two more in the first half, with Kaka the architect and Argentine striker Hernan Crespo the executioner. Half time; Liverpool 0 Milan 3, it looked like it could get embarrassing for the English side. However choking can be infectious and the Rossoneri caught the bug in the second half, as Steven Gerrard inspired his side to fight back and the Italian side capitulated under the pressure of being 45 minutes away from European glory. Goals from Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso saw the match finish 3-3, go to penalties and it was Milan’s darling Andriy Shevchenko who eventually crumbled under the pressure and missed the decisive penalty, giving Liverpool the Champions League title.

Bayern Munich, Champions League Final 1999
Manchester United and Bayern Munich contested the 1999 Champions League final in the Nou Camp, Barcelona, in what would be a prime example of the footballing choke. In an end to end match the German side started the brighter, and deservedly took the lead through a Mario Basler effort after only six minutes. United attacked well but the German side had key chances to win the game by getting the decisive second goal; firstly Mehmet Scholl hit the post and then Carsten Jancker struck the crossbar with an overhead kick. With time almost up, Die Roten started to defend and retreat, looking to protect their precious goal advantage. Enter substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. In injury time Peter Schmeichel came forward to attack a United corner, and in a me-lay in the German box Sheringham managed to convert a poor clearance and give The Reds parity. However the best was yet to come as less than thirty seconds later Solskjaer toe poked home the winner following a Sheringham headed effort. Totally capitulation and a great football choke achieved by Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team in three minutes of injury time.

Tottenham, vs Manchester United, September 2001 and April 2009
Tottenham took on English Champions Manchester United at White Hart Lane on Saturday September 29th 2001, with much anticipation around the London club. In a barnstorming first half performance by the home side, goals from Dean Richards, Les Ferdinand and Christian Ziege gave Spurs a 3-0 lead at the break. North London was full of energy. This could be the start of something big for Glenn Hoddle’s men. Sir Alex Ferguson and United had other ideas as five second half goals from Andy Cole, Laurent Blanc, Ruud van Nistlerooy, Juan Sebastian Veron and David Beckham broke Spurs hearts and the game ended 5-3.

Almost eight years later and Harry Redknapp took his talented Tottenham side to Old Trafford to lock horns with The Reds, and in an attacking performance in the first half the London club found themselves 2-0 up at half time with goals from Darren Bent and Luka Modric. Redknapp will have urged his team not to solely sit back and defend, to have belief in themselves and to go and win the game in his half time teamtalk, but instead his team choked and again conceded five second half goals to Cristiano Ronaldo (2), Wayne Rooney (2) and ex-striker Dimitar Berbatov, with the game finishing 5-2 to United.

Chelsea, vs Arsenal, October 1999
Fourth placed Chelsea hosted second placed Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in a highly charged match on 23rd October 1999, with local bragging rights and the Premiership title up for grabs. Arsene Wenger had started to mould the Gunners team into his own, an had signed Nigerian striker Nwankwo Kanu from Inter Milan in February 1999. In the match Chelsea took the lead through Norwegian striker Tore Andre Flo on 39 minutes and Dan Petrescu gave The Blues a 2-0 advantage on 51 minutes. The chant of “we want five” rang around The Bridge from a euphoric Chelsea support. In a wet and windy day, Kanu stepped up and got one back for Arsenal on 75 minutes, slotting home a miscued Marc Overmars shot, and the home side, and their fans, became slightly edgy. Kanu shocked the home faithful with seven minutes remaining as he drove home an Overmars cross, but the African striker still had more to come. In the last minute of the game, Kanu closed down a clearance and found himself close to the cornerflag, confronted by home keeper Ed de Goey, who had rushed out of his goal. The lanky striker avoided de Goey’s sliding tackle and converted from the tightest and most impossible angle to give the Gunners the match 3-2, with Chelsea in despair.
Real Madrid, 2003-2004 La Liga Season
In the 2003-04 La Liga season, Real Madrid had a star studded team full of world beaters, were champions from the previous season and followers at the Bernabeu had Ronaldo, Beckham, Figo, Roberto Carlos and Zidane to surely lead them to a second consecutive title. This looked very likely, as by the end of February Los Blancos were eight points ahead at the top of the standings and looking for the treble. However a four month choke by Carlos Quieroz’s side saw them lose the Copa del Rey final to Real Zaragoza, get kicked out of Europe at the hands of Monaco and lose their grip on the domestic title. A loss in El Classico and a 4-1 home defeat to Real Sociedad on the last day of the season saw Valenica lift the title, and the Galacticos finish fourth behind Barcelona and Deportivo La Coruna.

Newcastle United, 1995-96 Premier League Season
Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle side of 1995-96 were labelled ‘The Entertainers’, as the Toon amassed a quality side with the likes of Les Ferdinand and David Ginola in their ranks. Keegan’s men dispatched all in front of them and rushed into a 12 point lead at the top of the Premier League. The Geordies had finished second a couple of years earlier, but for the St James Park faithful this would be the season of glory. However Keegan’s men fell victim to a run of inconsistent form and perennial strong finishers Manchester United caught Newcastle up, and won the league from under their noses. Newcastle have fallen from grace since, and the choke of 1996 has significantly impacted upon the team’s fortunes.

The old cliches of ‘it’s not over til it’s over’ and ‘it’s a game of two halves’ spring to mind when reminiscing about some of the great footballing chokes, and it shows that a team must be mentally prepared as well as physically and tactically to succeed at the highest level.

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Is the cost of English players forcing Premier League clubs to look abroad?

With the much publicised transfers of Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson being completed by Manchester United and Liverpool respectively in the last week for a combined total of £36.5 million, most Premier League managers will be looking to the continent and beyond for their summer signings. Both England under 21 players have quality and potential in abundance, with that there is no argument, but such extortionate transfer fees will leave the majority of top flight sides financially out of the equation when looking to sign British players, and bring more foreigners to English shores.

The grievance is not with Sunderland or Blackburn, as neither wanted to lose their prodigious talents, both of which have been cultivated and nurtured through the clubs’ youth ranks. It was obvious that both players wanted to go, so why not get as high a fee as possible? The staggering thing is the amount of money it takes, and the big clubs are willing to pay, to buy young English talent. With FIFA eager to bring quotas into the game surrounding the number of home-grown players, and the Premier League being acknowledged as having a style and pace of play that takes time to adjust to, young British players will continue to cost an arm and a leg.

This piece is not a slight against either of the players personally; as a Spurs fan I would have liked to see them at White Hart Lane, especially Jones. But for £16.5 million? The 19 year old has only made 35 appearances in senior football. Henderson’s £20 million buys you a midfielder who has found the net a mere four times in over 70 games. My argument is not that he should score more goals, it is that for £20 million you would expect a player with a more rounded game.

In Europe there are much cheaper alternatives. Newcastle United have just signed Yohan Cabaye from Lille for a fee believed to be around £5million, a player not dissimilar to Henderson. The 25 year old French midfielder is fresh from helping Lille to a league and cup double, playing the majority of the side’s games. He has featured in almost 200 first class matches, and has represented his country on four occasions; the key point however is that he cost a quarter of what Liverpool just splurged on Henderson.

Personally I believe Jones to be the better prospect of the two, but again the transfer fee seems excessive. £16.5million? If Gary Cahill is to leave Bolton in the next months the fee will be similar, whilst Arsenal target and Jones’ centre-half partner at Ewood Park Christopher Samba is reportedly available for £12 million. Lets put this in perspective, as it is not a new pricing trend. Sir Alex Ferguson paid £7 million for the best defender in the league in the form of Nemanja Vidic, but £30 million for Rio Ferdinand. Manchester rivals City signed bench-warmer Joleon Lescott for £22million but paid only £6 million for the first name on their teamsheet, Vincent Kompany. The cost of going home-grown is there for all to see.

I wish both Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson the very best of luck at their new clubs. I believe that both will excel in their new environments, and have the necessary ability to make the step up.  However the fees paid for their services are detrimental to the English game, and it will be to the cost of the national side and Fabio Capello, who will not have as many players to select for international duty due to the continued influx of cheaper foreign alternatives joining Premier League clubs this summer.

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Factfile: 2011 Champions League Final

Manchester United and Barcelona meet at Wembley on Saturday to battle it out for the mantle of the best side in European club football. Dominant in their domestic leagues, sides laden with international superstars and a track record of success in the competition, the pair have been at the pinnacle for the last decade. A scintillating tie awaits; here are the key statistics that may give an insight into the eventual winners.

Previous Meetings

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have only beaten the Catalans once in the tournament’s history, a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford in the semi final second leg in the English club’s triumphant 2007/08 campaign. The Spanish side can boast two wins over the Manchester club, with a 4-0 demolition at the Camp Nou in the group stages of the 1994/95 season being complimented by their 2-0 victory in the final in Rome two years ago. The results in full:

  • 2008/09 Final: FCB 2-0 MU
  • 2007/08 Semifinal: FCB 0-0 MU, MU 1-0 FCB
  • 1998/99 Group D: MU 3-3 FCB, FCB 3-3 MU
  • 1994/95 Group A: MU 2-2 FCB, FCB 4-0 MU

Performance this season

Both sides have identical records in their respective group stages; four wins and two draws from six games. United are unbeaten in their journey to the final, with Barca only suffering defeat at the hands of Arsenal, 2-1 at the Emirates in the last 16. The Spaniards have significantly outscored Saturday’s opponents, by nine goals, but United have a stingier defence, only letting in four goals all season.

  • Barcelona – played 12, won 8, drawn 3, lost 1, goals scored 27, goals conceded 8
  • Man United – played 12, won 9, drawn 3, lost 0, goals scored 18, goals conceded 4

Top Scorers this season

The Blaugrana have the tournament top goalscorer in the form of Lionel Messi in their ranks, who has bagged 11 goals in 12 games, three more than closest rivals Samuel Eto’o, Mario Gomez and Cleo, who managed 8 strikes each before their sides were eliminated. United’s top goalscorer is Mexican Javier ‘Chicarito’ Hernandez, who has found the back of the net four times in eight games.

  • Barcelona – Lionel Messi – 12 games, 11 goals, 957 minutes played
  • Man United – Javier Hernandez – 8 games, 4 goals, 460 minutes played.

Both Ryan Giggs and Andres Iniesta have four assists in this season’s tournament, two behind this campaign’s top provider Mesut Ozil, who has set up six Real Madrid goals.

All time Top Scorers

In the competition history, the Argentinian is Barcelona’s all time top scorer, whilst United’s Giggs is equal with Denis Law in second place as the English side’s all time top European goalgetter

  • Barcelona all time top European goalscorers – 1. Messi (36, 2004-present) 2. Rivaldo (25, 1997-2002) 3. Patrick Kluivert (21, 1998-2004)
  • Man United all time top European goalscorers – 1. Ruud van Nistelrooy (38, 2001-2006) 2. Denis Law (28, 1962-1973) 3. Ryan Giggs (28, 1991-present)


Giggs also tops the list of European appearances amongst the current crop of players, with 139 outings for the Reds in Europe, ten more than Paul Scholes and four behind competition all-time leader Raul. Barcelona’s most experienced player in Europe is Xavi, with 129 games.

  • Barcelona – 1. Xavi (129 games), 2. Carles Puyol (114 games), 3. Victor Valdes (86 games)
  • Man United – 1. Ryan Giggs (139 games), 2. Paul Scholes (129 games), 3. Gary Neville (117 games)

From the 2008/09 final, Barcelona have seven of the starting XI available to feature in this final, and eleven of the match day squad still at the club. United have ten of the same starting line-up from the 2-0 defeat two seasons back, with an impressive 16 of the 18 man matchday squad still at the club.

Going all the way back to the 1994/95 season meetings between the sides, Giggs and Barca coach Pep Guardiola both featured in both games.

European Honours

Both clubs have won the tournament on three occasions, but stand considerably behind all time top tournament victors Real Madrid, who have prevailed on nine occasions. The Catalans have been beaten in the final more times, with United’s sole final defeat against Barcelona two seasons ago.

Winners – 1991/92, 2005/06, 2008/09
Runners Up – 1960/61, 1985/86, 1993/94

Man United
Winners – 1967/68, 1998/99, 2007/08
Runners Up – 2008/09

Prize Money and Financial Reward

This year’s winners will receive €9 million, with €5.6 million for the runners-up. UEFA pay the clubs by progression through each stage, €800,000 for a win and €400,000 for a draw. The total financial reward will be made up of performance-related payments, money from the television market pool and matchday revenue.

Barcelona will make €55.5m if they triumph at Wembley; €29.7m for their results and participation in the tournament and €25.8 from TV rights.

United are in line to receive €56.3m if they beat Barcelona in the final; €30.5m from UEFA for the games they have played and their performances and €25.8 from TV rights.

Financial Backing

In the 2011 Forbes Richlist, Manchester United top the list of wealthiest clubs in world football, whilst Barcelona are back in fifth, behind Real Madrid, Arsenal and Bayern Munich. The Catalans have a higher revenue than the English side however – as it is an American study all figures are in US dollars

  • Manchester United – Value $1,864 million, 2% increase on last year, $428 million revenue
  • Barcelona – Value $975 million, 2% decrease on last year, $488 million revenue

In terms of redistributing this wealth back to the players, Barcelona pay their stars considerably more than United, with the La Liga champions the highest paying employers in world football; the Premier League champions are back in 8th in the global game.

  • Barcelona – Average Weekly Salary per player – $152,130
  • Man United – Average Weekly Salary per player – $98,196

So there you have it, both sides are global leaders both on and off the pitch which should make for a mouth watering finale. A potent Spanish attack against a regimented English defence, a midfield battle between some the tournaments most experienced players and both sides looking for a double; roll on Saturday.

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2010/2011 Champions League in Quotes

This season’s Champions League has given us some memorable games, exciting and free flowing football and a mouth watering final between Manchester United and Barcelona to look forward to on May 28th. Inspired by the Barcelona vs Real Madrid semi-final sparking a war of words between the side’s coaches, here is a look back at the best soundbites from this season’s competition.

Barcelona vs Real Madrid

“Next year they might as well give the cup directly to Barcelona. The team is sad, but we knew it was an uphill battle. The name of the match is Mission Impossible IV. Once again it was the referee that didn’t allow us to dictate the outcome. We knew we could beat Barca, but the referee didn’t let us.” – Cristiano Ronaldo after the second leg defeat

“Why does this happen? Barcelona are a fantastic team. I don’t understand why Pepe was sent off. It paved the way for Barcelona to finish the tie. I said nothing to the referee. I just laughed and applauded his decision without saying anything. I’d rather say no more because if I tell him and UEFA what I really think my career would end here and now.” – Jose Mourinho after the first leg defeat to Barca.

” He is the f—— chief, the f—— boss of the press room” – Pep Guardiola (on Jose Mourinho) ahead of the tie.

Arsenal vs Barcelona

“I could understand the referee’s decision if there was four, five, six seconds in between and you make a chip or something, but one second from his whistle to my shot is a joke. But he’s been bad all evening, he’s been a joke all evening, whistling against us, I don’t know why he’s here tonight, I think he’s a joke.” – Robin van Persie (after being sent off for kicking the ball away)

“I am still convinced that in the second half they weakened a lot and that at 1-1 if it had stayed at 11-11 we would have won this tie tonight.” – Arsene Wenger after defeat to Barcelona.

Inter vs Tottenham

”Everyone is so scared of Bale. Maicon is the best right-back in the world. But Gareth killed him.” – Rafael van der Vaart after the 3-1 Spurs win at White Hart Lane

”Gareth was brilliant but the whole team was brilliant – all of them. We outplayed Inter. We were much the better team from start to finish. It was an outstanding performance, one of the greatest nights the fans have seen at White Hart Lane.” – Harry Redknapp after 3-1 home win over Inter

“Me going to Barcelona? Yes, I really hope that, but only as a Tottenham player in the next round of the Champions League.” Gareth Bale after the Inter win.

Inter vs Schalke

“The chat I had with Leonardo in the dressing room confirmed that he is a serious person; I’m glad we had it and I think he is too. “My estimation of Leonardo hasn’t changed. For me nothing has changed because I know how cruel football can be and you have to keep going without losing heart.” – Inter president Massimo Moratti following Inter’s 5-2 defeat against Schalke

There is bitterness and it is hard to digest. We got into difficulty in the vital moments. I really believed in it for sure because we played well in the first half, but we did not have any chances to score goals.” – Leonardo after Inter’s elimination.

Chelsea vs Manchester United

“The Ramires one was clear.  I didn‘t see the other one. I said to him [the referee] it should have been a penalty.” – Carlo Ancelotti after Chelsea were denied a penalty in the first leg against Man Utd.

“I put Fernando in the team because his skills and ability could be good for us. I thought for a lot of time to take this decision whether to start with Fernando for this kind of game.” – Carlo Ancelotti defends starting with Fernando Torres over Didier Drogba in the second leg.

“I think we played very, very well against a very, very good team. Chelsea played a big part in that game today and there were moments after they had gone down to ten men in the second half and still had a go so credit to them, but I thought we were the better team on the night.” – Sir Alex Ferguson after the second leg win over Chelsea.

Milan vs Tottenham

“Over two legs Tottenham had one shot on goal and scored. The best team doesn’t always win.” Zlatan Ibrahomovic after defeat to Spurs.

“I enjoyed the occasion, but no, I couldn’t say I enjoyed the 90 minutes. You’re looking at that clock and you want it to go and that 90 minutes to be up. It’s a great achievement for this club being in the last eight of the Champions League, it’s amazing what the players have done and if people can’t appreciate and enjoy this tonight then they shouldn’t be involved in football, it’s fantastic for everybody.” Harry Redknapp after the second leg against AC Milan.

And finally….

“Have you seen the last six World Cups? It is better going to the dentist I suppose… The important thing is the Champions League has proved itself since its inception. It is better than the World Cup. It is unbelievable. There are some fantastic games. Yes, you have to get through the group stages before you get to the really exciting stage but it is a fantastic tournament.” – Sir Alex Ferguson is a big fan of the Champions League

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Man Utd v Barca: Who has the better youth players?

Manchester United and Barcelona have dominated European football over the last ten years, and will again meet in the Champions League final on May 28th at Wembley. Much of both clubs success must be accredited to excellent youth systems, with a number of the key players in each side working their way through the respective academy’s; but who are the next superstars in the making that will keep the English and Spanish champions at the pinnacle of European football for years to come?

Barcelona enter into the final as favourites, and have played an impressive brand of attacking and possession football in Pep Guardiola’s reign over the last three seasons that has been rarely contained and much applauded. The side is full of international superstars, with the likes of Victor Valdes, club captian Carles Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and the mercurial Lionel Messi some of the world’s best players. The common theme of these players is that they all learnt their trade at La Masia and are products of the club’s stellar youth system.

Over the last couple of years a number of other youth team products have made their way through to the first team. Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez are now mainstays in the Catalan side, but who are the next young Messi’s in the making?

Bojan Krkic became the youngest Barcelona player to feature in a La Liga match when he made his debut for the first team at just 17 back in September 2007, boasting a record of 800+ goals in seven youth team seasons. The diminutive attacker has been hampered by injuries this season however, and is being linked in the Spanish press this week with a move to Valencia. Jeffren is a flying winger who has made fleeting appearances from the bench for the first team over the last two seasons, whilst Andreu Fontas has been included in the first team squad on occasion this season, but the central defender has struggled to break into the side. The most promising of the current batch of players however is Thiago Alcantara, a clever attacking midfielder who has made 14 appearances for Guardiola’s side this season, but will look to become a more regular feature next season.

United’s stranglehold over English football in the last 15 years was been largely due to the rise of youth players into world beaters, with Scholes, Beckham, Giggs etc putting all-comers to the sword. The current side have less internally developed players in its core, but Darren Fletcher, Jonny Evans, John O’Shea and Darron Gibson have come through the ranks and are first team squad members.

Who the next big name youth product will be is yet to be seen, as the club have resorted to buying players straight into their first team, and the previously largely English or British first team is now more multicultural. Danny Welbeck, who has impressed on loan at Sunderland this season and made an appearance for England is a product of Carrington, as is Italian 19 year old Federico Macheda. However the brightest prospect for United is 21 year old midfielder Tom Cleverley, who on loan at Wigan has showed creativity, a range of passing and an excellent work rate this season; the player may very well make the Old Trafford first team next campaign.

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Three Young Midfielders For Manchester United’s Summer Shopping List

Despite Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Everton that sees them move closer to a 19th league title (and Sir Alex Ferguson’s 12th Premier League title), fans have one eye on potential new recruits when the transfer window re-opens in the summer.

With Paul Scholes and the evergreen Ryan Giggs still having a part to play in the club’s future but not getting any younger and Owen Hargreaves crocked, Fergie will look to add some youthful exuberance to his midfield, with a number of transfer rumours turning into solid transfer targets.

The first and well publicised potential United target is Aston Villa’s Ashley Young. The ex-Watford winger has impressed over the last two seasons and is now seemingly a mainstay in the England team, wrestling the right wing jersey away from fellow speedster Aaron Lennon. With Gerard Houiller’s side having a difficult season and Young maturing as a player, it is only natural that the 25 year old will look to further his career and take the step up to a bigger club.

The Red Devils will not be alone in admiring Young’s qualities of speed, delivery and versatility, and Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham have all been linked with a move for the England man. Young has reportedly delayed on signing a new contract at Villa Park, but won’t come cheap as a price tag of £25 million has been touted.

Everton’s Jack Rodwell is another player who has been making Premier League news headlines this season this year, with the 20 year old continuing to progress over the 2010/11 season at Goodison. The England under 21 midfielder has been primarily deployed as a holding player for David Moyes side, but the second half of the season has seen Rodwell make additional strides forward and add attacking impetus to his play. The Merseyside club are financially unstable and may look to cash in on their young starlet, with Manchester United the destination of choice for the future England international.

Borussia Dortmund have emulated the Champions League winning side of 1997 this season and taken the Bundesliga by storm with their attacking and enterprising brand of football; one of their key men Nuri Sahin has refused to comment on his future this week and is being linked with a move away from Signal Iduna Park. The 22 year old has scored six goals and set up nine with assists in his 30 games this season, and adds a guile and creativity to Die Borussen’s side.

The German born Turkey international has a deft left foot and with a reported release clause in his contract of only €6 million, Sahin could be one of the buys of the season if United can wrestle his signature away from Real Madrid and Inter.

The three players all bring contrasting qualities to the table, and Young’s speed, Rodwell’s energy and Sahin’s passing are sure to be in big demand come June. All would fit in well at Old Trafford, but the most likely recruit is Rodwell as he has all the raw attributes to be a top player given time and direction at Carrington.

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Carlos Tevez: Talismanic Clubman or Money Motivated Mercenary?

Carlos Tevez typifies the modern day professional Premiership footballer, both the good and the bad. The Argentine striker has had quite an effect on English football since his arrival in 2006, firstly scoring at Old Trafford for West Ham on the last day of the season to salvage The Hammers Premier League status, then being adored by the United fans for his work ethic and goals that led to Champions League and domestic titles for The Reds, and now as the figurehead of the Manchester City revolution. Tevez is a mercurial talent; a ruthless hitman with all the ability and skill to carve open any defence in world football. However, Tevez’s temperament and loyalty can, and in this article will, be questioned, as he also epitomises the financially motivated footballer, who due to player power can hold clubs to ransom and whose loyalty seemingly can be bought.

So what do fans want and expect from their captain and/or striker? As British and English clubs they expect the traditional values of hard work, determination, loyalty and dedication, and they want to idolise someone who cares about the team’s cause as much as they do. Added to this, fans can unfortunately be inconsiderate and want a role model who delivers, game in, game out, week in, week out.

The Good

Carlos Tevez fulfils most of these attributes, and has showcased his skills for all to see. It takes a specific type of creative player that yes, can cut open defences, but is also willing to track back, chase down fullbacks and do what is necessary to aid the team in the greater good of winning the game. No-one can dispute Carlos Tevez’s effort and physical commitment on the pitch; he typifies the hard working centre forward that will chase lost causes and work harder than most players on the pitch. His skill, ability and goal scoring prowess cannot be questioned either, as the frontman has the deftness of touch, turn of speed and clinical finishing ability to give Premiership defenders nightmares. It is for these reasons that West Ham chanted ‘There is only one Carlos Tevez’ on the striker’s return to Upton Park; these reasons that the Old Trafford faithful implored Sir Alex Ferguson to sign him up on a long term deal and why they worshipped him. It is these reasons that Manchester City fans feel a wave of optimism every time their team steps foot on the park, as although they have a multi-million pound team wearing their colours, their pride and joy is their talisman who heads the home team attack.

The Bad

However, Tevez’s Manchester City career has been dogged by controversy. Firstly the fact that the player moved from one team to its bitter rivals must raise questions; sure, many players have done this in the past, but to leave champions Manchester United to go to up and coming, but when he signed, mid table Manchester City, shows that the move must be predominantly financially motivated. Alex Ferguson was willing to pay £25.5 million to capture his permanent signature and offered the player a five year deal, which was spurned to join City in a reported £150,000 per week deal.

Tevez’s actions against his former club United were questionable at best in the January 2010 Carling Cup semi final, as he argued with Gary Neville and infuriated this former worshippers after scoring against his ex-employers and celebrating in an over the top manner. For a player to switch clubs to their rivals for career reasons can be frustrating for fans, but for purely financial reasons and to act so inappropriately and without respect against the club that used to pay his wages reeks of unprofessionalism.

Following this Tevez has fired City into title contention, but not without a wobble and doubts over his commitment and loyalty along the way. The Argentine stated a breakdown in “relationships with certain executives and individuals at the club” as the reason for his written transfer request in December 2010, before a week later rescinding his wishes to leave the club and expressing his ‘absolute commitment’ to City after personal matters were cleared; Manchester City fans at that time didn’t know whether to love or hate their captain. These decisions again do not replicate the ideal of a dedicated club man or fans idol.

The Future

What now for Carlos? Tevez’s City career will largely depend on where the team finishes, and this will dictate whether it is Doctor Jekyll or Mr Hyde we see come the summer. If City finish in the top four the Argentine will dedicate himself to City and be an attacking threat to defences across Europe next season, with the club’s supporters bowing at his gifted feet. However if City continue to lag and drop out of Champions League contention don’t be surprised if a certain South American striker feels homesick or expresses his desire to leave, and both sets of Manchester fans are united in labeling him a Judas.

In conclusion, Carlos Tevez’s ability and the things he does on the pitch make him a entertaining and gifted addition to English football, and should Manchester City make the top four he will have a major part to play. However Tevez typifies the new age of professional footballers who unfortunately have limited allegiances to any one side, and has the potential to be a fair weather fans favorite, leaving his team in the lurch should more money or a better offer present itself.

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