'Villain' Tevez beats Bellamy in battle of boos
IT IS a rare night, indeed, in the career of Craig Bellamy that the announcement of his name in the team line-ups does not elicit from rival supporters the biggest boo of the evening. But at Old Trafford, the busy Welshman had a fall guy to absorb his usual flak. Alongside him he had Carlos Tevez. And boy was the angry little Argentine booed.
As yet there has been family link established between Malcolm Glazer and Tevez. The revelation that he is a long-lost son is perhaps the only thing that could make him less popular at Old Trafford.
This time last season the crowd were chanting that he be signed up. Eight months later and they were urgently insisting he should be strung up.
In protest at the Glazer reign of debt, many United fans were waving green and yellow scarves as a visual marker of their loathing of the current board.
These they had picked up outside the ground at a fiver a time from local entrepreneurs, businessmen who clearly shared the Florida family's fondness for a commercial opportunity. One man stationed in Salford Quays revealed he had sold 70 of the items in just over an hour. When asked how much of his haul would be heading towards the coffers of the anti-Glazer fans' organisation that had inspired the windfall, his reply was succinct. "Nowt," he said.
In truth, from the moment the opening whistle blew, the state of the overdraft was not what was worrying the pastel-clad regulars in the United section. Not with Tevez around.
The forward's crime was not just to head to across town to buff up his bank account. It was to have the audacity to score two crucial goals against his former side.
What perhaps lay behind the vehemence of his reception was the fact those strikes in last week's first leg had given pertinent reminder of what United had lost. Tevez's scurrying workrate is hard to disdain when it is applied in your cause. He was loved at Old Trafford for his effort, which had been unstinting and selfless.
Here, eschewing the snood he has been wearing through the cold snap, he preferred to stay warm on a shrill Mancunian night by characteristically threatening to run his legs into stumps.
The disappointment for those who had followed the plotline from the City of Manchester Stadium was that Gary Neville was apparently already ensconced in his planned Teletubby-like eco-bunker. The United captain had not been called upon even to warm the bench.
It left Tevez with a bit of detective work to find him should he score. In what direction would he cup his ears? Whence would he direct his impression of Rod Hull recently stripped of his partner Emu?
Tevez scored for City on the 75th minute, but it was Wayne Rooney who had the last say for United, heading home from close-range to seal a late, dramatic victory for the Red Devils.
- Manchester United's match against Arsenal on Sunday will be shown in 3D in selected pubs in Ireland and England.