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The Tevez Problem

So far, the biggest loser from the signing of Dimitar Berbatov has been Carlos Tevez. He didn’t get on the pitch at all against Chelsea, failed to gel with the Bulgarian against Notlob, and was relegated to the bench for the games against Aalborg and Blackburn. His industry whilst on the pitch haven’t been rewarded with goals, and at the same time Rooney is returning to something like his best form.

And yet talks are on-going to make his contract permanent by paying MSI (the company who “owns” him) an eye-watering sum, reported to be around £32m. Which is more than we paid for Berba or, for that matter, anyone else. Ever. Spot the disconnect? Doesn’t take a genius.

There are essentially three questions:

1. Has Tevez really become a reserve?
2. Should we retain Tevez on a permanent deal?
3. How much should we pay for him?

Has Tevez really become a reserve?

I would certainly say that Tevez has become the second choice support striker to Berbatov. There’s been a lot of debate about whether Tevez is better than Rooney or vice versa, but to my mind Rooney is a much better fit with Berbatov.

The reason for this is that Berba isn’t a poacher who plays right up top all the time in the Van Nistelrooy mould – as we saw against Blackburn, he likes to pull off and receive the ball to feet with his back to goal. When he does this, Rooney is adept at pushing forward into the spaces behind Berba as an auxiliary target man (think of his goal against Aalborg as an example). Indeed, Rooney played much of last season as the main striker.

Tevez, on the other hand, is almost never to be found on the shoulder of the last man. He is rarely in a one-on-one situations (Rooney is sometimes criticised for missing too many, but at least he gets there), and is mostly to be found surging from deep or from wide. Therefore, when Berbatov drops off, it is unlikely that Tevez will “swap” and take him place as the line leader. We will lack the kind of central, goal-poaching presence in exactly the same way as we did for much of last season, relying instead on intricate moves or pieces of magic from deeper-lying players.

That is not to say there is not a role for Tevez. It would be criminal of Fergie not to try the 4-2-3-1 approach, with Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo playing behind Berbatov. It might not work – it might be a case of too many cooks – but it surely must be tried. If it does work, and if a role can be created for Tevez to raid from a wider starting position (something he has done in the past for Argentina), then he certainly mustn’t be a reserve. But if it doesn’t work, then unfortunately the answer to the question is “yes, Tevez has become a reserve”.

So, should we sign him?

On the face of it (and not considering price for the moment), this seems like a no-brainer. Even if we can’t accomodate him regularly in a first choice line-up, over the course of the season injury, fatigue and just plain rotation will see him play a good number of games, make important contributions and score a decent number of goals. As an impact sub he would be almost unparalleled.

However, before signing a player who may have to spend more games than he would like on the bench, you need to know more about his temperament. On the one hand, you have the Ole Solskjaers, Darren Fletchers and Wes Browns of this world, who would prefer to be part of a successful squad than a starter for a team winning nothing. But Tevez seems a bit too good to be accepting this sort of role on a long term basis – the teams who coming knocking on his door will be of the Real Madrid calibre, not the Spurs calibre.

Therefore, even if he is initially happy with a role as junior partner in a rotation system, the offers and the stories linking him away from Old Trafford will be relentless. Such rumours, as we found out in the extreme case of Ronaldo over the summer, can be massively unsettling for both the player and the club.

In the long term, if Tevez can’t nail down a regular place in the first team, he’ll leave, even if it is reluctantly. Which begs the question – why sign him in the first place?

How much should we pay for Tevez?

This is the real crux. If we could sign Tevez for two more years at £10m, we should do it without batting an eyelid. But for £32m? For a player who may well end up being a regular substitute? On top of the £5 approx that we have already paid as his loan fee? It’s just madness.

Apart from the sheer ludicrousness of sitting our most expensive player on the bench two matches out of three, we’d have no hope of getting anything like our money back when he moves on. If we sold him on for £20m in 18 months time, we’d be doing well.

So if we do decide to sign him, about £20m is the most that we should be prepared to pay, and we should be looking to get that down to nearer £15m (at the cost of additional payments based on appearances, goals etc). But is there a deal to be done at that price? You would have thought not, since the company that owns his rights will be looking for a much bigger return on their investment, and could certainly get a higher price in the open market. And we could certainly buy a decent support striker who is happy to be part of a rotation system for that amount of money.

I don’t like where my train of thought leads me – where this article is going. I don’t want to let Tevez go, I love the lad, I love his attitude, and he’s scored some crucial goals for us. But pure, cold-eyed business sense dictates that, unless the dream-team Fab Four up front works, we may have to let Red Tev move on.

Penguin, the author of this article, also blogs here.



  1. Grognard

    13 October 2008 at 19:08

    @Stephen: Very well put Stephen. I totally agree there. That amount of money could be better spent filling other more important needs. Lets not forget our owners are in a very precarious situation right now and we cannot assume that our transfer kitty always has the money needed to buy whichever player Fergie requires. Therefore budgeting and cutting costs seem to be the measure of the day.

  2. Grognard

    13 October 2008 at 19:14

    @colver: Solksjaer played very few games on the RW. In truth back then we played a consistent 4-4-2 and Fergie had four strikers who did not have the ego problem that the ones we have now do. I cannot see either of our big three forwards accepting a role on the bench even if that makes them another Solksjaer. Does anyone have any idea how rare a player like Ole was and is? Not only a great player and clutch but completely unselfish and focused on the good of the team. Rooney may seem like that but I think his tune would change if he was benched for a prolonged period. Tevez already looks unhappy and it has affected his game as he hasn’t been great coming off the bench. Berbatov , well we know how he would accept that role. Sheringham was also a player willing to accept that role as a sub and part time starter. When we got him his best days were behind him. He was already in his 30’s and I think he was quite happy with his role. Yorke and Cole were also good team players who accepted the fact they would occasionally sit or that they would be taken off. Ahhh, the good old days. 😀

  3. Grognard

    13 October 2008 at 19:18

    @Karl: Again I totally disagree. He would go to Spain or back to Boca. He has said this many times before. Him and Mascherano are not connected at the hip. And Carlos honestly cares enough about United that if he were allowed to leave, I seriously doubt he would leave with such bitterness in his heart that he would want to stick it to United like that. Again mate, pretty bloody cynical. And stop referring to us a football manager types. Give some of us credit for having an intellect up there with yours. 🙄

  4. Just1n

    13 October 2008 at 19:29

    No brainer. Tevez should be signed at all costs.

  5. R

    13 October 2008 at 19:37

    @Karl: Look budy Fans are like children, the candybar loses its appeal instantly when it comes in their hand, especially if there is another more shiny one in pocket or one staring through the glass, Its human tendency so don’t lose your cool about it.
    People are going to have opinions irrespective of what is correct and what is not simply because there are too many of us around and largly because what was meant for work is now being used to give rest to the tongue 😀 . Any way its collective openion that matters and its hard to see a collective thickness suddenly taking shape, especially where it matters: in the board room.

  6. Craig Mc

    13 October 2008 at 19:48

    @Grognard: Grog, totally agree with your post bro. And yes, aaah the good old days indeed 😆 . I think Ole was only pushed out on the right wing when Fergie had one of his outbursts, and vendettas. He was mad at Beckham, and left him out and played ole if I remember correctly, 🙄 .

  7. Just1n

    13 October 2008 at 19:59

    Tevez transfer still set to go through

    Published Date: 13 October 2008
    Manchester United will not have to pay £32m for former West Ham United star Carlos Tevez when the club finally sign a deal to turn his Old Trafford loan deal into a permanent move.
    Neither will the Reds be making a U-turn on the agreement with Tevez’s owners MIS that was struck in the summer of 2007.

    The club fully intend to go through with the transfer as originally outlined, despite rumours that the worldwide credit crunch
    has hit, and United would seek to negotiate a cheaper fee.

    However, when the Argentine forward was captured by United two summers ago, Old Trafford’s hierarchy and MIS put in place a fee of around £32m.

    However, deducted from that would be a figure of around £3m a season the Reds are paying the owner’s of Tevez’s registration.

    The final cash sum that would see the permanent future of Tevez sealed at some point this campaign will be around £25m.

    It has been reported that United’s interest in Gremio’s teenage striker Douglas Costa, who is rated at £20m and has Barcelona and Real Madrid also on his list of admirers, could scupper the Tevez deal.

    But it is understood there is no get out clause in the original Tevez deal and United will willingly pay up the remaining cash to ensure the forward becomes the Reds’ property.

    Meanwhile, United await the meeting this week of US Treasury officials where they will discuss the financial rescue of the Reds’ shirts sponsors AIG – the under-fire American insurance giant.

    Insiders on Wall Street are saying that it could begin moves to cancel the £14m-a-year agreement with United.

    However, United have already banked this season’s instalment and are confident that another global Blue Chip company would be keen on replacing AIG on the shirts if the rug is whipped from under the current deal.

  8. Nico QB

    13 October 2008 at 20:19

    @Just1n: So its not £32m? Its £25m… 🙄

    For me one word: disgrace…

    Once again no attack on Tev, but whotf are MIS? 😡
    Would much prefer David Silva.

  9. Just1n

    13 October 2008 at 20:31

    @Nico QB: David Silva does nothing for me. He is supposed to be a winger isn’t he? If we have to sign a winger to replace slave or Giggs then the only option would be Ribery imo.

  10. JB

    13 October 2008 at 20:51

    @Craig Mc: Funny how time clouds things. Nothing to do with Beckham’s poor form in a number of key games or his injury disruptions? Or how about Solskjaer’s exceptional form on the right side in a 4-2-3-1 in Beckham’s absence, with 15 goals and numerous assists. The fact he was picked for most of the key games in the run in that year speaks volumes.

  11. MUFC Fan in America

    13 October 2008 at 21:10

    @Grognard: That’s (Gretzky/Crosby v Hull/Ovie comparison) cool to know, but I’m not in a fantasy league. I dont know enough about hockey for that.

    I’d be interested in knowing what rule changes youd make to the current game though.

  12. colver

    13 October 2008 at 21:11

    Grognard I am also worried. Really we need a situation where each of our three forwards plays at least once a week. That would keep everyone fresh and guarantee them around 20-30 games a season as well as the prospect of substitute appearances.

    That is the only way I see of keeping three strikers who could walk into the first team of almost any other club in the world happy.

    Tevez seems to be the odd man out at the moment. I think we will be able to wrap a deal up if we still want to. But once he is signed I foresee him getting dissatisfied with being left out and we might be forced to sell him on the cheap just like we did with Heinze, RVN, Veron and all the other players who became misfits

  13. Nico QB

    13 October 2008 at 21:17

    @Just1n: Agree about Ribery’s quality and I was miffed when Fergie seemed oblivious to that boy’s talent, when his eyes were on unproven talent coming from Portugal. At the time I thought 25m (it was euros i think) was a bargain for Bayern.

    But nowadays no way is Bayern gonna let go of their best player, even for £32m!!! Just ask Grog. Heck they were willing to let go their not the most important- seemingly always injured Hargo at £25m, was it? Now just imagine the price of one Ribery!!

  14. Liam

    13 October 2008 at 21:21

    @Craig Mc: @Grognard: as far as I can remember Ole played quite a few games at RM and as JB says he was fantastic there and until he got injured was our first choice for at least a fair few months

  15. Shyam

    13 October 2008 at 21:28

    @Grognard Why do we have to talk about “Is Tevez happy with a bench role?”. ..I want to go back 3 months back when every United fan was begging to sign a new striker…Arent we going back to that stage if we leave Tevez (with only 2 world class strikers)??..I think and hope Fergie have enough man management skills to manage the ego problem you are talking about…Berbatov is no Benzema or Huntelaar..He is at his peak and going downhill starting this season or next season…In my opinion Tevez-Rooney should be our first choice strike partnership with Berbatov providing that very good alternative…We are now assuming a starting place for Berbatov because of the money we have spent on him….but i dont think thats the criteria…

    Why should we spend 20M for a untested new midfielder when we already have 3-4 world class midfielders and plenty of untested ones and sacrifice a truly awesome footballer and a world class striker for that…Tevez has proved his worth time and again last season and the football the trio played have to be appreciated…

    Above all, who would like Tevez playing against us, say for Real or Barcelona…doesnt that sound scary?

  16. Craig Mc

    13 October 2008 at 22:00

    @Shyam: Shyam, most of us agree with you about Tevez mate, but we doubt that Fergie does since Berbatov arrived. I have loved Tevez since day one, and this season was meant to be HIS season of proving himself even more, because he was over tired from not getting any kind of a break from football last season. However, he has been the one that has spent the time on the bench really, since Berba came. Still it is early days, but if this continues for any length of time, I agree with Grog, that Tev will not settle for any prolonged time on the bench. He is an all action kind of player, who needs to continually be involved. Problem is, he plays in a Rooney type position, but he like you said Shyam, is the one who gets those vital goals in very tight matches. Rooney doesn’t do that. Rooney gets goals in the free flowing, multiple goal type games. Tev can always be brought on as an impact sub, but he will not do that for long I don’t think. He could as you say, play alternate games, but he would not be happy if he was left out of the BIG games in PL or CL. Thats just my opinion, but we all just wait and see 🙂 .

  17. Craig Mc

    13 October 2008 at 22:09

    @Liam: Liam, I understood that was because Fergie, having dropped Beckham from the team to teach him some kind of lesson only Fergie thought he needed, played Ole on the RM, and because Ole did so well there, he told Beckham he couldn’t drop Ole. That’s that the Manchester and football papers were saying at the time. I know Beckham was out for a few games, and I know he was really hurting because of it. Victoria Beckham on Manchester radio morning sports talk in said as much. I think she should know what was going on.

  18. Craig Mc

    13 October 2008 at 22:12

    @Nico QB: Nico, I understood United tested the waters to try get Ribery, but he didn’t want to come to the premiership at the time. Anybody else heard of this attempt?.

  19. Craig Mc

    13 October 2008 at 22:18

    @JB: JB I am not denying that Ole played fantastically for us for quite a few games in RM. I didn’t say that in my post mate. I am saying that Victoria Beckham on Manchester Radio interview at the time, denied that Beckham was injured, but that Fergie was protecting him from what was going on with Fergie and him at the time. Fergie himself, has come out and said that he does when discipling players, leaks that they are injured, because of all the bad and wrong press speculation over disciplining players. Now I heard him say that myself, and that’s the truth JB.

  20. Craig Mc

    13 October 2008 at 22:31

    @Jay wire: Please refresh my memory bro, when was Roon benched for 2 consecutive matches, and wasn’t injured 🙂 ?. Serious question mate, because I don’t remember it. Not saying you are wrong though, I am just surprised 🙂 .

  21. Craig Mc

    13 October 2008 at 22:38

    @Karl: Rio and Vidic can master anyone. Torres does not play well against them. We only lost at Anfield because of Edwin’s folly, otherwise it would have been a draw. And we weren’t even playing at 70% our top form. They will KOP it at Old Trafford.

  22. JB

    13 October 2008 at 22:41

    @Craig Mc: And Victoria Beckham is such a reliable source. Sounds far better that big bad Fergie is victimizing Beckham because of some vendetta rather than he was dropped for his showing against Roberto Carlos in the Bernabeau.

    When Beckham wasn’t starting during the run in of 2002/03, I don’t remember injury being used as an excuse, he was dropped plain and simple. And in the games he was dropped, he was sitting on the bench against Madrid, Arsenal and Liverpool, only missing the Newcastle 6-2 entirely. So I don’t know where the disciplinary cover up is coming from.

    The vendetta theory would have made more sense if it had came after the flying boot incident earlier in the year against Arsenal in the FA Cup but he started most of the games in the aftermath of that. Bottom line, Ole was playing better at that stage of the season and fully justified his place in the team ahead of Beckham. Of course that doesn’t look particularly good for the Beckham media machine; better to blame it on an SAF grudge.

  23. Nico QB

    13 October 2008 at 22:41

    @Craig Mc: Yes, we prodded the waters, but didn’t show the kind of willingness to get what was clearly to me, and everybody who followed a bit of french football, one of the future best 3 players in the world. Ribéry was that good, even at Marseille. (at the time I was watching French highlights regularly and still do once in a while)

    As I remember, we didnt put a concrete offer, or nothing substantial to sway Marseille…

    Oh, and about Rooney not scoring in important matches… off the top of my head, I say Roma, and Arsenal – when he breaked their invivcibility, oh I loved that one :mrgreen:

  24. wayneboy

    13 October 2008 at 22:47

    hello mate, can anyone update me about carrick,hargo and others injury ,when are they going to come back?pls i really need it now mate.

  25. Nico QB

    13 October 2008 at 22:59

    @JB: I always thought the biggest mistake in Beckham’s career development was the fact that everybody raved about his crossing ability, which ended up with him not developing the other aspects of his game.

    I remember the year in which Rivaldo won the ballon d’or (totally unfair, Beckham should have won it but at the time there was (and still exisits) the propensity of voters to vote for latin european championships) Beckham had excellent technical ball control, intelligent carrick like through ball passing, could shoot like curlers and missiles alike from afar, had his well-known tireless running and of course his radar crossing.

    3 or 4 years later the only aspects left in his game was the crossing, the running and to a lesser extent the shooting.

    And to go back to this argument, yes at the time Ole was playing better, but I also thought that fergie was being a tad unfair on Beckham as he could have played him a bit as CM – Scholes was still AM and Keane DM, he could have rotated a bit. Then if I remember correctly while United was losing an iimportant game (Madrid was it?) Fergie decided to actually give Beckam 20min. He came on, scored and created oportunities. Fact is he was far from finished at the time – miles better than what Giigs or Scholes can offer today (as proved by the fact that he was Madrid’s best player in the season where he won the Spanish league) even though he was not delivering the stellar Brylcreem Becks performances…

    And, no I’m not a Becks supporter, just trying to give him a fair assessment – he was a prat off-field but never disappointed on the pitch (as far as I remember) 😉

  26. Craig Mc

    13 October 2008 at 23:11

    @JB: Look JB, you can be as sarcastic as you like, but I heard that Victoria interview on Manchester Radio with my own ears. David is her husband, so I think she would be more in the know than you and I. David didn’t speak out, but Victoria did, and that’s why Fergie always had a problem with her. Or are you going to deny that too?. Fergie himself admitted, in an interview of his own, that he does cover for players so that they avoid press embarrasment and outlandish speculation over disciplinary matters. You can think Fergie an absolute saint if you like, that he doesn’t have sudden grievances against certain players that upset him, but it is common knowledge in Manchester that he does. All people everywhere have spats, and Fergie is no exception. He has admitted it himself, so we don’t really need to defend him, because he is not too concerned about it. If you want to call Victoria, David (since he left), various ex Man Utd players and Fergie himself liars, then feel free to do so. I’m not in such denial – sorry.

  27. Craig Mc

    13 October 2008 at 23:15

    @Nico QB: Nico, the match you are talking about, Fergie’s refusal to play Becks cost us that game. Madrid were there for the taking, and had Becks been on much earlier, we would have done them for sure.

  28. JB

    13 October 2008 at 23:21

    @Nico QB: I’ll have to disagree slightly, I felt that Beckham a season earlier (2001/02) produced a level of performance at the same level to the Ballon D’or year, so I think it is harsh to say his game had degraded as much as you suggest.

    With regards to playing him as a CM, I think tactical considerations ruled that out. SAF was playing a 4-2-3-1 at the time and was using two defensive midfielders (Butt and Keane) to free up Scholes, Giggs, Ole and RVN to attack. And Beckham did have an impact coming on against Madrid, scoring a free kick and another scruffy goal (which was probably going in anyway) but you got the distinct feeling that it was because he had a point to prove.

    Incidentally I don’t necessarily agree with the decision to sell Beckham and he certainly wasn’t finished at the time. Getting rid of him and Veron at the same time was a mistake in my eyes. Personally I think Beckham’s lack of flexibility/adaptability was a key component in his departure. SAF had begun to rework the attack into a more fluid line up at the time and while the likes of Giggs showed the ability to adapt his game to changing requirements Beckham didn’t. There were strong rumors that Giggs would be sold to Inter Milan that summer but the adaptability he showed in the second half of 2002/03 probably saved his hide. The same could not be said for Beckham.

    P.S. RVN and Casillas would probably argue with you over who was the best Madrid player in 2006/07.

  29. Craig Mc

    13 October 2008 at 23:26

    I think Beckham just proved at Wembley stadium, that he still has his great probing, accurate floating of balls into the opposition penalty area.

  30. JB

    13 October 2008 at 23:30

    @Craig Mc: I am not disputing whether you heard the interview or not, that SAF can hold a grudge or whether Victoria Beckham has a better idea about her husband than us. SAF quite clearly had a long standing problem with her, so you can stop trying to put words in my mouth.

    SAF may well use injuries to cover up disciplinary matters in the club (he likely did so with Beckham a couple of years prior after he missed training) but that never appeared to be the case in 2002/03. Beckham was dropped to the bench after a number of poor performances, no injury cover-up, it was as clear as day what was happening. The disciplinary issues would have arisen months early in that season.

    If SAF is capable of lying to cover up disciplinary procedures, is Victoria Beckham not capable of doing so to paint her husband in a more favorable light?

    @Craig Mc: Defensive fragilities cost us that game. We created plenty of chances before and after Beckham’s substitution.

  31. Fred The Red

    13 October 2008 at 23:32

    @Nico QB: good call about Rooney there mate, dont forget about AC Milan at OT, Liverpool at Anfield plus important gamebraking goals against teams like Derby and Chelsea away last season, the volley against Newcastleand the winner against Pompey and Arsenal and at OT the the season before last, all tight matches were our other big players went missing.
    It appears to me that our Wazza can do very little to appease his detractors coz I can think of many more tight games were The Roon has got us going, so to say that Tevez gets the important goals and Rooney doesnt is blatantly not true.
    Both good players who have scored important goals so cmon Craig MC old mate, I thought we agreed to differ judgement until Rooney got a run of games in his favourite position coz if he does, he will be a big player for us this season.

  32. Grognard

    14 October 2008 at 00:09

    @colver: I don’t see it that way. As for this year Tevez will just have to get used to starting one out of every five games. As for next year, I think he is a luxury we cannot afford. We need that 20 to 30 million to sure up other weaknesses. I for one would never sit Berbatov down except in early FA Cup games and all League Cup matches. Tevez must play all those cup matches and I’d start him over Rooney in every 1 out of 4 EPL matches. In the Cl he is nothing more than a super sub.

    Again, this is not me being anti Tevez. I like the guy and I think his heart and desire are fantastic. The problem, for me is he doesn’t score enough and he really doesn’t spend enough time in goal scoring areas. Rooney has had this problem too, but he seems to be coming out of it and lets face it, he’s scoring goals a plenty right now. If he goes cold and his form suffers, then put Tevez in. But right now, Tevez is the odd man out. Sorry but for me Berbatov is untouchable.

  33. Grognard

    14 October 2008 at 00:11

    @Nico QB: Fergie is oblivious to a lot of greatly talented players. Even with his great success, I wouldn’t necessarily call him a great judge of talent. He looks for certain players that he feels he can work with or that offer something he is looking for. For all his greatness, Ribery doesn’t offer Fergie what he wants or he felt he was over priced. Bayern on the other hand spent very well in getting him and I doubt he would be available as he is very happy in Munich.

  34. Grognard

    14 October 2008 at 00:12

    @Liam: I think he played there a bit in Beckham’s final year. Before that I don’t think so.

  35. Grognard

    14 October 2008 at 00:18

    @Shyam: Yes you are correct that we would be going back to where we were before we got Berbatov except for one thing. Berbatov is GOD. He is everything we were missing and in great need of when Rooney and Tevez were both starting and doing fairly well. He’s also not very injury prone and he paces himself well. Rooney and Tevez run themselves into the ground. And quite often for nothing. Look I want Tevez but I am just questioning the price for a guy sitting on the bench. We can buy an incredibly qualified striker to man that role if need be and for under 15 million. I’d spend the money where we need it. Besides, I think one more year of experience for Manucho, Welbeck and Campbell may help one or two or even all of them really raise their game and begin to make a statement. They weren’t ready this year. I just see a weakness on the wing, no attacking midfielder and a need to buy a true heir to EVDS as being more important for next season.

  36. Grognard

    14 October 2008 at 00:21

    @Craig Mc: Good point mate. Totally agree. She has no reason to lie and she is the closest person to him. He also claimed the same thing in his book. So either the Beckham’s are liars or whatever.

  37. Nico QB

    14 October 2008 at 00:33

    @JB: I thought Becks had a chance in CM. Everytime he played there he seemed to perform reasonably well and one can only guess about how he would have developed there. I never really rated Butt. Red through and through but he’d one of those who showed their true quality when moving to another team. When someone plays regularly alongside Scholes and Keane I think he’s bound to look better tha he actually is. Perhaps he was on the same level of Fletcher, albeit more defensively minded. Oh, and he commited way too many faults. And let’s not even thinkabout Phil Neville!

    Becks was still world class in 2001/2002 indeed, but what I meant was that he was no more among the 3 – 4 best players in the world or so i thought.

    But also when you talk about Beckham’s lack of flexibilty, I can only envision 3 possible positions for him, RM, CM and RB as last resort. And agreed that he was probably going through a dip of form but all of our great players have gone through one – Keane, Giggs(he even used to be booed! Unthinkable today! 🙂 ), Scholes (well, lesser perhaps), Rooney(spurter), Cantona… But Fergie was always ready to give them a chance to regain their form. The exception of course are those who crossed the limits – Stam, Andrei,… So did Beckham cross the limits? As I said I never felt he let us down on the field, even if some of his performances might have been underwhelming.

    Beck’s transfer to real scum was the first one which really left me shell-shocked. I was just a kid when Eric and Andrei left… 🙂

    OK, me tuck in now! 😎

  38. Craig Mc

    14 October 2008 at 01:33

    @Fred The Red: Fred bro, I said that Rooney is playing well in some games lately, that’ll have to be enough for now mate. I’m not deliberately trying to goad Roon fans you know. We lost the games at Chelsea and Arsenal away, didn’t we. Also the one against Inter Milan at OT wasn’t a vital goal either as it turned out, because we were piss poor in MIlan. The ones against Roma and Pompey I will give you 😉 . But Fred, I was referring to goals scored in otherwise lost or drawn games that would have effected the PL trophy win last season. Tev seemed to get them last season, and even Fergie was saying Tev was like Cantona for getting the goal that counts. I am not saying he is a better all round goal scorer than Rooney, just that he is a winner for us in games that would have been lost and cost us PL. It’s all swings and roundabouts anyway Fred, but I know Tev is not better all round goalscorer than Rooney 🙂 . That good enough for you mate 🙂 .

  39. Craig Mc

    14 October 2008 at 01:37

    @JB: Whatever JB, whatever. Suit yourself mate.

  40. Craig Mc

    14 October 2008 at 01:39

    Grognard, who are Germany playing in their international game on Wednesday?.

  41. Grognard

    14 October 2008 at 02:51

    @Craig Mc: Wales.

  42. JB

    14 October 2008 at 19:25

    @Nico QB: I’m not so sure to be honest, he played well in CM for us a couple of times (mainly the tail end of 1998-99) but he never appeared there consistently. He played there quite a bit when he went to Madrid and I was never particularly convinced by him in there. I know what you mean about Butt but he was good at his particular role. For example Ronaldo is better than any of our CM’s but you wouldn’t want him in CM to do a defensive job. Butt was a limited player but his positioning and tackling were good and he kept his passing simple but efficient. He fulfilled the role of DM in a 4-2-3-1 well IMO.

    When I was talking about flexibility I was meaning what his role would be in a 4-2-3-1 using fluid attacking players. If you want to use DM’s as the two, then that only really leaves a space amongst the floating attacking players. And despite Beckham’s many attributes I don’t think he has the necessary skill set to act as a free floating attacker, his role was always fairly one dimensional (and extremely effective). Personally I couldn’t ever see RB being a long term option.

    Why did he leave? I wouldn’t say that form was the only reason but I think this notion that some have that it was solely a Fergie vendetta is flawed. The media circus had built up to horrendous levels around him impacting on him and the team, he has passed his peak as a player, his replacement had proved more than capable in his absence and a marquee player was set to arrive to replace the lost creativity (Ronaldinho). And of course personal aspects would have played a part. Anyways there is quite an interesting article on the situation from the time.

    Beckham sells plenty of shirts, but Ferguson is in the business of winning

  43. Nico QB

    14 October 2008 at 23:05

    @JB: Yeah, I agree for the most part with your analysis, except that I’ll just add that even though he was indeed past his best, if he could regain some form, he could still do the job and be a valuable player to have in a team. I would have swapped that Beckham of the wane for Nani and Park today.

    Part of the problem for me is that Beckham became a caricature of himself at the time. In his best season, his playing bore resemblance to what Veron was doing at Lazio in midfield (which left me baffled why Veron came in, when I thought Beckham in midfield could do that job), pinpoint long distance passes, through balls, crosses, shots, etc. By the time media circus took over he was pass a few, run a bit, try to put the cross in, basta.

    Perhaps the media circus affected his game, but then considering Fergie’s tactical limit (now don’t go contesting that, everybody knows he’s a bit tactically limited 🙂 ), he wouldn’t have been able to convert Becks into a new positiion. 4-2-3-1 was copyrighted Quieroz btw, if i’m not mistaken and it only really ticked when Ronaldo came to prominence. For a few years the 4-2-3-1 seemed unnatural and I remember most people begging to come back to the 4-4-2. And we did play much better in 4-4-2 during the transitional years.

    But somehow, it seems to me that Fergie had made up his mind about Beckham, the spiceboy would have never been part of his stalwart protégés as are Scholes, Gaz and Giggs.

    I’m disappointed how Beckham ended up. Even when he left Madrid we could see he wa still a very good player, and could turn out world-class on a good day. But somehow he went to that graveyard which is the MLS. I’ll always wonder how Beckham would be welcomed if he turned up to play at OT… And there’s no doubt that the Man Utd board should be indepted to him to have brought to our cause a great number of fans. Some(or many) of them might have been plastics, but I bet that many stayed loyal.

    And about the witch Victoria, I can’t really fault her. I mean, she’s nothing like Britney or Paris is she, and they truly love each other those two, I wonder if Cheryl and Cashley will be able to maintain the same longevity (for celebrities, that is).

    The only real thing which left me appalled in Beckham’s behaviour is his befriending of that crazy guy Tom Cruise. 😆 👿

  44. JB

    14 October 2008 at 23:35

    @Nico QB: I just want to pick up on a couple of points on the tactical areas. The 4-2-3-1 got its first sustained outing in 2002-03 (when CQ was assistant manager in his first spell) and was a rip-roaring success in the run in, using Scholes, Giggs and Ole as a three man supporting attack with RVN. You are correct in that the myriad of European formations didn’t work well during 2004 and 2005, although I’m of the opinion that this was due to the player pool not being as strong as it was in either 02-03 or 06-07 rather that any inherent limitations with the formations/style.

    The other point was with regards to Beckham being converted positionally. I don’t think it matters what SAF’s tactical ability was, IMO Beckham didn’t have either the flexibility or adaptability to reinvent himself as a free floating attacker. You couldn’t really see him popping up on the right one minute, interchanging with the left winger the next and then moving into the hole behind the striker. It isn’t meant as a criticism of him, but his style wasn’t really like that.

    Finally on Victoria, I just want to clarify that I don’t think she is a bad person or anything like that, I just don’t think that ‘Brand Beckham’ was above a bit of spin and media manipulation when it suited.

  45. Craig Mc

    14 October 2008 at 23:51

    @Nico QB: I agree with your sentiments in your post on Beckham mate. Also with your comments on Fergie as a tactician 🙂 .

    The Cole’s and Beckhams are very good friends, and Victoria was a great advisor to Cheryl during Numb Nuts Ashley’s several infidelities with loose women 🙄 . Cheryl has a completely different mentality to Victoria over Money though, she is more interested in building a family life, than the Cole empire according to her many interviews in tv/newspapers etc. She is worth several millions of her own, and does not use Ashley’s plastic. ,

  46. Paddy

    15 October 2008 at 21:35

    Signing Berbatov was the mistake, his laziness makes me sick. Tevez is as good as Rooney and better than Berba. Tevez scores in the really important matches and he is the hardest worker United have. Go back to Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez and let the good times roll!

  47. Paddy

    15 October 2008 at 21:40

    Don’t forget if United don’t sign him there’ll be no shortage of takers. Real, Barca and Inter will be top of the que and dare I day it – Chelsea and Man City would love to have him

  48. rubanraj

    16 October 2008 at 08:56

    I have mixed feelings about this. It won’t be easy trying to satisfy all the strikers in the team. Unless Berbatov, Rooney, Tevez & Ronaldo could all play on the same field together, someone will be rotting on the bench. No matter what Fergie says, he won’t be able to keep all his strikers happy unlike the 98-2000 era. Those days, Yorke & Cole started most of the games leaving Solskjaer & Sheringham on the bench. Fortunately, Solskjaer and Sheringham accepted their roles in the team. Tevez,is a player who every top club in this world would like have with them. It just doesn’t make sense if he’s left to rot on the bench. I am waiting to see what fergie’s reaction will be to Tevez’s claim that his goals have dried up because of the way he’s been asked to play at the club.

  49. swapnil

    16 October 2008 at 14:26

    32mn seems bit too much for most of the readers but the thing is that these days the transfer prices are only so hyped up that you can’t help it..we paid 30mn for a 28 yr old kinda lazy player(don’t get me wrong he’s still a great player)so why can’t we pay just about the same amount for a player 4 yrs younger to him and has a potential to become maybe better than berba!!!

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