Club Focus – Manchester City – How will City replace talismanic Tevez?

Of the four games that Carlos Tevez has missed for Manchester City this season, three have ended in defeats – most recently an abject surrendering to joint-bottom Wolverhampton Wanderers. It has not helped that his replacement Emanuel Adebayor, talented he is, has invested more energy in speculating for a move away from the City of Manchester Stadium than he has on the pitch. Potentially wonderful foil for the feisty Argentine international – he possesses athleticism, a sure first touch, can play with his back to goal and is a potent finisher – he has instead chosen to react childishly to being displaced. Lazy performances when he has been given the opportunity in the Premier League do not bode well for his City future.

Nor do they bode well for City’s trip to the Boleyn Ground this weekend to face West Ham when Carlos Tevez misses out, suspended. With accusations the Citizens are over reliant on Tevez, it seems that somebody else will have to step up to the plate. Tevez however has faith in his City teammates. In a rare show of solidarity – Tevez has, when not scoring winning goals, spent the season claiming to be tired of football and the culture which pervades the City dressing room – ‘El Apache’ spoke of his belief that City are more than capable of winning games without his timely interjections in front of goal.

“I don’t see it like that,” he told the Daily Telegraph about his special presence in the team. “If it doesn’t work out, then there are 10 other guys out there are my equal.” With the surly Adebayor seemingly out of the picture, perhaps the time has come to move Mario Balotelli into the pivotal centre-forward role. Playing foil to Tevez switching from right to left with David Silva, the precocious youngster’s record of five goals in seven games marks him out as a prime candidate to replace Tevez in the short-term.

The question is not one of talent; rather whether Balotelli has the maturity to lead the line in as selfless a manner as Tevez, who is as lauded for his incessant running off the ball, his defending from the front, as he is for his goals. Can a man who left the field in a strop following Inter’s Champions League semi-final first leg defeat of Barcelona really be trusted to put himself on the line as selflessly as Tevez consistently does?

Vital questions regarding Manchester City’s immediate future are going to be answered this weekend. Most notably, is this most expensive of all squads assembled in the Premier League still dependent on one short, stocky player acquired from their most detested rivals? Roberto Mancini believes that the questions will be answered positively in Tevez’s stead for a change.

“Carlos and Kolarov are very important but the players who replace them can have a very good game,” he said, acknowledging the effect the absence of the marauding Bulgarian will have on a team whose attacks have too seldom been supplemented by its full-backs. Nevertheless, he has faith in their replacements to carry on where City left off against Bolton Wanderers, playing stylish, attacking football in the process.

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