Tevez is now expected to miss the weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against arch-rivals Manchester United at Wembley due to his hamstring tear, and his loss will have a major effect on the outcome of that game. There are plenty of stats that suggest just how important the Argentinean is to this City side; he has been involved in 50% of City’s league goals this season, with his 19 goals and six assists contributing to the Citizen’s 50 goals in the Premier League. Not only does he offer such a huge amount on the goalscoring front, he is so important to Mancini’s style of play.
The former Inter boss has moulded this City side into an Italian team of old. Some of the great Italian sides from the past used the system now in use at Eastlands, where there is such a wide dividing line between defence and attack. Indeed, City have spent a large majority of the campaign playing with seven defensive players and three attacking outlets. Yaya Toure contributes to the attacking side – largely at home – but his main purpose is to assert the side’s authority in midfield and, alongside his two other central midfielders, protect the back four.
Meanwhile, the front three are left with plenty of freedom in order to do their damage. This was used in Serie A when it was in its pomp and is being brought back to a degree. Milan use it to great effect, as do Inter at present. What City do not possess, which is so important to this system, is a playmaker to link the divide between the defence and attack. This is where Tevez comes in. His adeptness at dropping deep and tireless running of the channels makes him the link to the team’s attack. When he is not there, like for most of Monday night and at Chelsea last month, the side didn’t get their front players in the game at all and struggled to get any kind of attacking impetus going.
When Edin Dzeko takes over Tevez’ role – like he did in the two aforementioned games – he is not so adept at dropping off and linking the play. He is more of a target man and penalty box predator. He can hold the ball up, but he will not drop into space in between the opponent’s defence and midfield in order to help bring his team up the field and into attacking areas. Tevez does and his teamwork knits this City team together, which without, they revert into a pale shadow of the side they are with the Argentinean in their ranks. The United game on Saturday was always going to be tough to overcome, but without their talismanic captain to bind the team, it will be a whole lot tougher.