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John Giles: Thriving Tevez must be trauma for Fergie

IT must be killing Alex Ferguson to see Carlos Tevez in full flow for Manchester City. The Argentinean striker is a constant reminder of Old Trafford's changed circumstances and a monumentally bad judgement call.

Not many managers get to try the goods before they buy, but Ferguson had Tevez under his nose for two years and in the last six months of his time with Manchester United he proved to just about everyone how talented a player he is.

I can't believe for a second that Ferguson doesn't admire the attributes Tevez has shown throughout his time in the Premier League.

Ferguson was quick to claim that Tevez was not worth the £35m his owners were asking when the issue came to a head at the end of last season, but he didn't convince me or anyone else, I suspect.

SPARK

When Manchester United needed a spark in the title-run in, it was Tevez who ran the yards and showed the kind of hunger that demands a response from those around him.

But Ferguson persisted with Dimitar Berbatov even to the point where he was purposely snubbing Tevez. He clearly believed that the sulky Bulgarian would step into the gap left by Ronaldo.

He was wrong. Berbatov has been a complete failure and, just to rub Ferguson's nose in it, Tevez is shooting the lights out across town.

The financial picture at Manchester United at the moment is deeply complex and better qualified men than me will be able to tell how serious the situation is in terms of the club's debt.

But the whole operation rests on one man's judgement. Up to now, Ferguson has been able to park mistakes like Juan Veron and move on – with cash available to plug the gaps.

Ferguson has delivered trophies and profits for his owners and while he did that, they were happy to back his judgement without hesitation.

But the last three big transfer deals, in and out, have shown cracks in Ferguson's judgement at a time when the resources may not be there to compensate.

Ferguson ignored his instincts when Ronaldo first made public statements about his love for Real Madrid and instead of shipping him out, there and then, he indulged the player.

As a result, he undermined his own authority, When he cashed in, he did so at a time when the planet was in financial meltdown and it didn't take an economist to figure out that the Glazers might need the money.

We don't know whether Ferguson's odd aversion to Tevez was formed simply because he couldn't afford the money he needed to sign him or he truly believed that Berbatov was a better option.

Perhaps it was a mixture of the two. Either way, it's not good for Manchester United. If the money wasn't there, Tevez's goals for Manchester City are something more significant than just a cause of embarrassment for Ferguson.

The fact that Manchester City can afford Tevez and Ferguson could not suggests a pivotal shift in Premier League power.

ASSUME

We must assume that the £80m generated by Ronaldo's sale to Real Madrid was the difference between a £50m profit and a £30m loss.

Add the current speculation that Manchester United will have to borrow £75m to fund future transfers and the picture looks very worrying indeed.

I've always viewed the Glazer family as a relatively benign influence on Manchester United and have been impressed with the sense they showed by letting Ferguson do his job without hindrance.

While Roman Abramovich flexed his muscles at Chelsea and signed Andriy Shevchenko, destroying the momentum Jose Mourinho had built up, the Glazers stayed away and Ferguson bought the players he wanted.

But interference takes many different forms. Right now, it would seem the way the Glazers have structured Manchester United's finances is impacting directly on Ferguson's ability to sign players.

It should be a source of great concern to everyone in the Premier League that Manchester United is having such problems.

It would be stupidly arrogant to think that the Premier League can avoid the ravages of the recession. There is certainly a bubble around the Premier League and many clubs are living way beyond their means.

Boom and bust has always been with us in football but it has to be a concern when the biggest names of all – Manchester United, Liverpool – are saddled with enormous debt and are struggling.

BRAND

The Manchester United brand is plenty big enough to ride out this storm over the long haul but will Ferguson be able to find a way to patch up his squad and remain competitive in the short term?

Nothing lasts forever in football and if this is simply part of the game's eternal cycle, it could be that we are living through the days which mark the decline of the Ferguson era at Old Trafford.


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