If you’re a Manchester City fan, selling Tevez off might not be such a bad idea after all.
With the sale of the want-away Argentinian to Corinthians seemingly close at the time of writing, many spectators are pointing out the loss that the sale could bring to Manchester City. Throughout the season, the labelling of City as a ‘one-man team’ has become increasingly prolific and also tediously predictable. The fact that a team that finished 3rd is dismissed as being because of one player ought to be ridiculous. Not that we haven’t come to expect it. With Man City spending the amount they have, the criticism borne out of the sheer willingness to be against them because of their wealth has risen dramatically. Anything that goes wrong has been scrutinised, from their negative football to their inability to challenge for the title despite the ranks of players and talent at their disposal.
A couple of years ago, Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool team were in a two-way title challenge with Manchester United, losing only two league games all season and finishing with 86 points, just 4 behind the eventual winners. Yet at the same time they were being dismissed as a two-man team of Gerrard and Torres. Then when Alonso left at the end of that season, and Liverpool struggled for form the next season, they were being ripped apart for letting such an integral part of the team go. So it seems, that they were not a two-man team but at the very least a three-man team.
Carlos Tevez has a playing style that is hugely respected in England. The whole-hearted way he went about his play won him praise from the very start of his controversial move to West Ham and since then, the praise has continued pouring in. Accusations that Man City have been heavily reliant on him is something that the sky-blue half of Manchester have had to deal with over the past couple of seasons. The fact that Tevez has been such a big part of their attacking unit has been possibly the biggest attack Manchester City have had to put up with – a supposed reliance on him to provide the goals.
An initial look at the statistics seems to show some truth to that matter. Out of Man City’s 60 league goals last season (2010/11), Tevez was responsible for 20 of them (33.3%) and was joint highest goal scorer with Dimitar Berbatov. With 6 assists to add to that he has a goal contribution (goals or assists) of 43.3%. If you also take into account, the fact that he has spent some time out, not playing for them, his goal contribution out of the goals that have been scored when he’s on the pitch is 55%. If you look at the figures from season before (2009/10) he was responsible for 23 of Man City’s 73 goals at a percentage of 31.5% and adding assists to the mix (7) the goal contribution rises to 41.1%.
However if you compare the overall results when the team has played without him, the change is minimal. Combining both seasons since Tevez arrived, the team has won 52% of matches that he has played in. When he hasn’t played, the team has won 50% of matches, just 2% less. And considering that he has only completely missed 10 matches, and the time to get used to using a new striker or system has been fairly small, the figure is pretty impressive. The minutes per goal with him in the team is on average 53 while the overall minutes per goal is 57, just 4 minutes away from the overall total.
The team also scores just 0.06 less goals per game without him than with him. And if you take into account the average number of points without him in the team (1.83 with him, 1.7 without) the combined total over the 38 games would be just 5 points less without him than with him. Then you also have to take into account City’s back up players. Though Edin Dzeko has disappointed since his move in January, he still has 2 assists in 8 starts, a better percentage (25%) than Tevez’s 6 assists in 30 starts (20%). Mario Balotelli, despite injuries and only starting 12 league games, has scored 6 goals and he is still capable of a moment of magic despite his inconsistent nature.
Of course, history tells us that the sale of a big goal-scorer can easily turn out to be a good thing. Ruud Van Nistelrooy had an average of 19 league goals a season for Manchester United and if you discount the 04/05 season where he missed a lot of games through injury and scored just 6 league goals, he averaged 22.25 league goals a season. He also contributed on average (also discounting the 04/05 season) 30% of their league goals (goals and assists). Yet United won just one league title in his 5 seasons there. In the three seasons after he left (2006-09) United won three titles on the trot and have won overall 4 league titles, 2 League Cups, 1 Champions League and 1 Fifa Club World Cup. The loss of a big goal-scorer can often galvanize the rest of the team into taking greater charge of their affairs.
The loss of Tevez could also bring changes to the tactical set-up next season. Since the Premier League began only 8 of the 19 title winners had a golden boot winner in their ranks. A team that shares its responsibilites equally, with undue individual influence taking a backseat, is more likely to emerge winners at the end of a gruelling season . If a team doesn’t have a goalscorer in their ranks, it is up to the rest of the team to bring in the goals and be more attacking as a whole. If and when Tevez goes, it may lead to a more dynamic attacking play from the team as a whole and could lead to more success in the future. With the signing of Clichy, a less direct option than their current left backs as well as the possible signing of Samir Nasri and others, the passing game could well become completely central to their play and the involvement of every player in the possession game can only be a good thing. Tactically a passing game suits playing further up the field so the tactical feel as a whole could well be more positive and attacking.
With Tevez in the side, it seemed the rest of the team were content playing defense, hoping that Tevez would come up with something in attack. When Thierry Henry left Arsenal, they seemed on the brink of dropping out of the big four. They had finished fourth two seasons on the trot and with the sale of their talismanic captain, it seemed that they would struggle – quite the opposite. The next season, Arsenal went on a great run and until their famous draw with Birmingham which seemingly halted their title bid, they were outstanding. Their players had really picked up their game. Henry commented a few months after he left – “Because of my seniority, the fact that I was captain and my habit of screaming for the ball, they would sometimes give it to me even when I was not in the best position. So in that sense it was good for the team that I moved on.”
With Tevez, there may be the mentality that he will be given the ball to create while everyone else relies on him in attack. Without Tevez there is the case to be made that the team may function better as a whole, particularly in attack which is the major area they need to improve on. The sale of Tevez will of course have an impact on Man City. He is an extremely talented footballer and would be a huge asset to most sides. But with Dzeko and Balotelli in their ranks as well as players coming in and the opportunity for the team to step up to the next level, a good season still looks likely for Manchester City.