In a strange way, West Ham United fans may be disappointed Carlos Tevez will not be playing for Manchester City at Upton Park today.
Carlos Tevez: Prodigal son or poisoned chalice?
LONDON // In a strange way, West Ham United fans may be disappointed Carlos Tevez will not be playing for Manchester City at Upton Park today.
Although Tevez's absence because of suspension gives West Ham a better chance of earning some much-needed points to lift themselves off the foot of the Premier League table, there will be an element of regret the club's supporters cannot indulge in the annual adoration showered on a prodigal son.
When it comes to reunions of former players, West Ham's blow hotter and colder than any other.
Frank Lampard is a demon; Tevez is deity.
Which is strange, because while Lampard's legacy actually saved the fabric of the club, Tevez's short impact triggered a decline.
The legend reads that Lampard is a traitor because he quit the club to join bitter rivals Chelsea in 2001. But Tevez is an all-time great because he saved the club from relegation four years ago.
Actually Lampard's £11 million (Dh64m) sale to Chelsea in 2001 was clinched after the club sacked the manager Harry Redknapp (Lampard's uncle) and the assistant manager Frank Sr (his father). It also helped fund the redevelopment of the club's Upton Park stadium. Not bad for a product of the club's renowned youth system.
But whenever local-boy-made-good Lampard turns up at Upton Park he is not just rebuked, he is reviled.
Yet the Argentine Tevez is eulogised because his burst of brilliance at the end of the 2006/07 season helped avert the club from relegation and financial meltdown, crowned most notably with the winning goal at Manchester United in the final game of the season.
The following campaign, despite moving on to United in what was reported as a £20m deal, with little or none of the money going to West Ham, Tevez was met with fevered acclaim in his first return to the Boleyn Ground. But it was not long before what had been Tevez's surreal arrival at West Ham, along with that of Javier Mascherano, his Argentine teammate, on the transfer deadline day of the summer of 2006, was revealed to be a poisoned chalice.
Alleged irregularities of his transfer from the Brazilian club Corinthians to West Ham and the status of his third-party ownership breached Premier League rules.
And because of Tevez's significant role in West Ham's survival that season, the club that suffered - Sheffield United, who were relegated - sued and won damages of £18.5m that West Ham are paying off in instalments until 2013. More to the point, the team which had started that season in fine fettle, having narrowly lost to Liverpool on penalties in the FA Cup final the previous season, had been derailed by Tevez's arrival.
Alan Pardew, Newcastle United's new manager, was in charge of the Hammers upon Tevez arriving in London's east end. "It is strange really; Tevez is such a big hero at West Ham," he said. "But when you look more closely, everything that we had started to do, started to achieve, changed - and not necessarily for the better - when he arrived."
Pardew added: "In the end, Tevez did brilliantly for the club and helped them stay up. Fair play. But you might ask where did the club's problems actually start that season?"
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