Tevez lights the way for City with electric display
MANCHESTER CITY 2
Published 20/09/2010 | 05:00
That famous messianic image, arms spread wide, welcoming visitors to Manchester. The Samson-esque haircut, though with none of his powers diminished.
And now, amid a biblical deluge at the DW Stadium, offering evidence he can walk on water. No wonder Manchester City see Carlos Tevez as their saviour.
For all the money lavished across Europe by Mark Hughes and Roberto Mancini, none looks better spent than the £25m which smoothed Tevez's short journey from Old Trafford to Eastlands. The Argentinian, who scored the first and made the second to see off Wigan, stands alone as City's difference maker.
Here, he was the difference between a comfortable, though perhaps not inspiring, victory, and the disappointment of another two points dropped. He is the difference between fourth and 13th in the nascent Premier League table.
In keeping him fit and on form lies the difference between success and failure. That may be rather more difficult than it sounds.
So eye-catching are his talents that he is bound to attract negative, as well as positive, attention, and it was no surprise to see his ankles bitten and his body bruised as Wigan sought to subdue their tormentor.
Twice in as many minutes, Steve Gohouri and Charles N'Zogbia left him in a crumpled heap on the sodden turf.
It is Tevez's almost unique gift among imported players, though, that he just keeps on going. Despite his occasional protestations that he could happily forego international football, he remains fiercely, proudly Argentinian.
The Premier League, though, is his natural habitat. He combines expert technical ability with a robust physicality. Bustling and combative, he is the quintessential English deep-lying forward. He just happens to have been born in Buenos Aires. Such suitability is priceless on days like this. Days when relentless rain teems down hours before kick-off. Days when David Silva and Yaya Toure, still acclimatising to life under these conditions, are all but peripheral figures. Days of treacherous pitches, tentative footsteps and testing opponents.
For much of the first half, as the ball skidded and the players slipped, Roberto Martinez's side matched the world's richest team, the midfield of Mohamed Diame, Hendry Thomas and the excellent James McCarthy relishing the task of pitting their wits against Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong.
City evidently decided the midfield battle was sufficiently intense to be worth avoiding. Their breakthrough came when Joe Hart launched a long, hopeful goal kick, the ball skidded off Diame's head, escaped Antolin Alcaraz and Tevez, bursting past the Paraguayan, placed a perfect sand-wedged chip over Ali Al-Habsi.
"Carlos is there to score," Mancini said. "He did not work for a month after the World Cup but I am happy because he scored here. At the moment he is not in 100 per cent of form, but this goal can help him."
If this is Tevez short of his best, City's season can only improve. He was electric after the interval, his colleagues -- James Milner and Barry in particular -- lifting themselves to the Argentinian's exalted level. He ought to have settled the game himself when Gohouri inexplicably offered him the ball, but he could only find Al-Habsi's midriff.
No matter. Another Gohouri mistake, a poor headed clearance, was pounced upon, Tevez hared to the byline and skimmed a low cross to Yaya Toure, his first goal for City a simple one. "We created their goals for them," a disappointed Martinez said.
Tevez did not require any assistance. He went close twice more -- and substitute Adam Johnson, injecting more vim into proceedings, clipped the bar with a deflected shot -- as City cruised to victory.
More exacting challenges await. Chelsea visit Eastlands next week. The sort of day when saviours are anointed. (© Daily Telegraph, London)