HomeOTHEREPLTevez returns - but have City moved on?

Tevez returns – but have City moved on?

Many months, many column inches and many millions of pounds later we finally have the apology from Carlos Tevez; an apology deemed to be sufficient for Roberto Mancini to welcome him back (even if not quite with open arms) into the fold, stating that he ‘has no problem’ with Tevez.

This week saw City both progress in to the last sixteen of the Europa League and see Tevez return to the training ground ahead of City resuming Premier League action (Tevez is not eligible for European competition) with a game against Blackburn this Saturday. Now that Tevez has been immersed into the squad, whilst not necessarily forgiving him for his actions, there is a general acceptance (or in many cases a grudging reluctance) from fans that Tevez will feature over the remaining dozen or so games and with a sniff of a first Premier League title for over forty years, any price that can help City maintain their advantage at the top of the Premier League table is one worth paying – however unpalatable that may be.

Whilst the talk has been as to whether Tevez is worthy of forgiveness and deserving of a second chance, there is very little talk as to whether how Tevez can actually fit into this City side. The City side throughout 2011/12 is undoubtedly one that has evolved. It is one that tops the table, are the top scorers in the Premier League and are amongst the leaders in terms of shots and chances created (including conversion rate) with them possessing a plethora of attacking options throughout the squad. No longer is Tevez the pivot of the side, the central figure, the heart and soul dragging them on his back and it is the development and evolution of the City side that is perhaps the barrier that could see Tevez remain on the fringes.

Tevez arrived at City in the summer of 2009 and undoubtedly had two excellent seasons at the club (becoming the fastest to fifty goals in a City shirt in the process) as the below numbers – which are very similar from season to season show:

But as mentioned earlier, this City side has certainly kicked on from an offensive standpoint. The figures for 2009/10 (left) and 2010/11 (right) are as follows:

Impressive numbers again, for sure, but take a look now at the 2011/12. The figures are through just twenty-five games of the season and City have or are on course to surpass virtually every meaningful offensive statistic in terms of Goals, Assists and Chances, whilst their ability to create in terms of minutes per shot – including on target and chance created – are far lower this season:

City this season (2011/12)

With Tevez absent from the side, the space and areas he dominated have been opened up and allowed David Silva to shoulder greater responsibility and Yaya Toure has less defensive responsibility this – both factors shown in their comparison between this season and the last.

Firstly, David Silva’s numbers that display quite marked the improvement has been as he has already created a greater number of chances, assists and almost matched his goal tally from 2010/11, whilst also being close to surpassing last season’s passing numbers:

Another interesting comparison is a comparative look at both Silva and Yaya Toure’s passing zone numbers between this season and last (2010/11 being the respective top line of the data shown – with the lighter blue colour indicating the leading player within the squad for that category), particularly so for Silva whose final third passes already show a 25% jump in 2011/12 and Yaya Toure too should also shortly exceed the figures from the last campaign where Tevez’s presence was a reason for a reduced involvement further upfield:

As well as an increase in his passing numbers, David Silva has also a greater number of final third entries, 156-151, when comparing 2011/12 to 2010/11 – a further indication of an increased presence and importance from an attacking perspective. Added to the duo of Silva and Yaya Toure, the summer also saw City add Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri, who are both (Nasri after a slower start) contributing a tremendous amount to City’s offensive prowess: purchases that may have contributed to the initial frustrations experienced by Tevez back at the start of this current season.

Undoubtedly, Tevez is a fantastic player and for all his troubles off the pitch, his on pitch persona and attitude is one that could not be called into question. There is a school of thought that Tevez at least now provides ‘an option’ for Mancini but even assuming his fitness his such to allow him to play almost immediately, the way City are currently playing, and how they have played over the course of this season from a tactical perspective, indicate that Tevez may still very much find himself on the outside looking in as his absence over the past six months has allowed City to evolve their attacking game to the extent where kicking his heels sat on the bench is ironically the position that he finds himself returning to.

All of the stats in this article have been used from our Stats Centre, to gain access to these Opta Stats and be able to write for us: Subscribe Now!

Managing Editor of SBNation's Manchester City blog 'Bitter and Blue' and author of 'Man City 365'.
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