32 players to watch

Player To Watch #7: Carlos Tévez

Number 7: Carlos Tévez

Position: Forward

Country: Argentina

Club Team: Manchester City

American Based Professional Athlete “Soulmate”: Alexander Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals

What can I say about Carlos Tévez besides the fact that he’s our number seven player to watch at the upcoming World Cup? I suppose we should get the full disclosure part of this post out of the way right here. I love Carlos Tévez, he’s my dawg. Not in a gay way (not that there’s anything wrong with that), nor in an actual friendship way. Sadly, I can’t claim to actually know Carlos, but I’m pretty sure my life is worse for it. Tévez is one of my favorite soccer players, period. So cut me some slack if this post borders on over complimentary.

Tévez began his pro career by playing for two of the most storied South American sides of all time. He dazzled at Boca Juniors in his native Argentina before moving to Corinthians in Brazil and scoring 31 goals in 47 appearances. As an Argentine Carlos won the award for being the Brazilian league’s best player, no small feat. And in 2004 all Tévez did in the Athens games was net eight goals in six matches to take home the Olympic gold medal for Argentina and the golden boot for his mantle. He scored a goal in the ’06 World Cup and career momentum saw him hop the pond and land in the English Premier League, but in the wrong way.

The Obligatory “Carlos Tévez Affair” Story

In a bit of bad business Tévez and countryman Javier Mascherano allowed their rights to be sold to Iranian businessman Kia Joorabchian. This part of the story always reminds me of that segment in N.W.A. Behind The Music where the group basically sells all their future profits to the record label, but Ice Cube keeps a cool head and refuses to sign the offer sheet. I don’t know who plays the role of Cube in our story, but it sure ain’t Tévez or Mascherano. The English FA and the EPL itself both eventually got hip to the scene and ruled that people weren’t allowed to own people, and the Emancipation Proclamation was again validated. The financial penalties that followed are too numerous for me to list here without falling asleep, but suffice it to say that many a court of law was involved and some dudes with the title “Lord” helped make sure that my favorite club team won’t ever be financially solvent. But everything worked out for Carlos and Javier in the end, so let’s get back to our hero’s playing career shall we? We shall.

Shady circumstances aside, Tévez and Mascherano arrived at West Ham United and suffered career hiccups that begged the question, “Can these guys even play at this level?” Carlos was pedestrian at best to start off, and his disappearing act was only surpassed by Javier’s run of the absolute worst play of his career. The team’s form was so poor when Mascherano was in the lineup that the holding midfielder was loaned and eventually sold to Liverpool at a cut price, leaving the East London club in a mighty relegation scrap. Luckily Tévez decided to single handedly take over the Premier League and manufacture a great escape, go ahead, buy that DVD.

After endearing himself to the Hammer fans, Tévez took his transfer to a big club with class, and still doesn’t celebrate when he scores against West Ham.

All he did in his two years at Manchester United was help get the club to two Champions League finals, winning one, and taking the Premier League title in both years. Even more impressively, he made Man U slightly less hateable during his time at Old Trafford, and that’s virtually impossible.

For some reason Sir Alex Ferguson never saw Tévez as an everyday starter, and sold him away to crosstown rivals Manchester (Blankcheckster) City for eleventy billion pounds, a British transfer record. How’s Tévez looking now Fergie?

The verdict on the diminutive striker from the Eastlands always sounds the same, Carlos is the most popular man in City blue. I’ll now dictate for our resident Manchester City fan and apologist, Puck!

Carlos Tévez fucking rules. How many cities you think that guy can go to where he never has to buy a beer ever!? (apparently that was an actual question from Puck, I’m going to say four at least) I don’t care if he never learns to speak English, you learn Spanish to talk to Carlos Tévez!

Apparently Raf disagrees:

Fuck you Puck, Carlos Tévez kicks ass!

Now we’re getting into the realm of the arguments we have at the TYAC home office regarding the band Bad Religion, suffice it to say that this discussion could go on for a long time without anyone ever actually disagreeing.

Puck’s admiration for the man makes sense, he’s only scored 23 goals in 35 appearances for the club that he’s ushered back into European competition.

So aside from me loving them and both guys speaking bad English, how do Carlos Tévez and Alexander the Great compare? Well aside from both of them scoring goals at will, they both have more fun than just about anyone else doing it. This severe looking (they ain’t pretty!) duo is known for their passionate play and celebrations, but their post-goal performances always seem to lift their teams, and without showing up the opponent. You’d have to be one of those baseball purists who has a problem with a pitcher’s big-strikeout fist pump to hate on the joyous antics of either Ovechkin or Tévez.

Aside from a lack of long ball/puck service both guys sport a pretty complete offensive skill set, but are lauded so heavily for their goals that the fact that they distribute and rack up assists as well gets lost in the shuffle. Probably because both men barrel forward and on goal with reckless abandon. And because they’re both near unstoppable in attack, the fact that they track back and give their all on defense is rarely talked about, but immediately evident upon actually watching a game. They may not have a knack for defensive positioning, but they’re sure trying to get involved. Tévez is always tracking back, pestering defenders and making himself available. Ovie, well his idea of getting involved on D is just to skate at top speed and check an opposing player as hard as humanly possible.

Sadly for Tévez, his Argentine national team mirrors both Ovechkin’s Capitals and his Russian national hockey team in its imbalance. The Cap and Russians, like Maradona’s curiously selected Albicelestes, both boast a wealth of attacking talent and an alarming lack of world class players on defense. The theory for the Alex O teams was that Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, and Knuble (or Ovechkin, Semin, Malkin, Kovalchuk) were just going to score too many goals to be denied. Fail, in both competitions. No gold medal. No Stanley Cup.

So are Tévez, Messi, Ag?ero, and Milito going score too many goals to be denied the World Cup? Actually they might, and the wild card in this case may just be their much maligned manager Diego Maradona. Like most managers who used to kick the ball at the highest level, Maradona inserts his player mentality into his ggameplansh, if we can call them that. Diego’s no tactician, never was, but the guy loves to attack the goal. Where Ovechkin’s teams had coaches who tried to coach-up the defensive side of the game in hopes of creating a balanced championship team, Argentina’s head man may very well just find ways to get all of his most talented offensive players on the field at one time and urge everyone forward. This could mean that Tévez occupies a forward midfield role from time to time, but that might be what it takes for the South American giants to outscore their opponents all the way to final trophy. That’s fine with Carlos, because like everyone’s favorite No-Cal punk band, NOFX, our number seven player to watch is just doin’ it for the cause.

Tales of the Uninvited: Having been omitted from the aforementioned Diego Maradona’s World Cup squad, Internazionale defender Javier Zanetti is spending the summer embracing his non-football interests. He can be found at all hours in the subtly named Inter Milan Underground Communist Coffee House (yeah I don’t know why they named it in English either). Activities will include writing and reciting Marxism-themed haiku, trying to convince a bored Esteban Cambiasso of the righteousness of Mexico’s Zapatista movement, and of course Parcheesi. Sounds like a riveting few months Javier!

Jon Levy is a senior writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at jon@yanksarecoming.com.

Jon Levy