x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

It is lonely up front for City's Carlos Tevez

Roberto Mancini's Manchester City side are becoming over-reliant on the Argentinian forward.

Tevez has scored nine league goals this season. 
Ed Sykes / Action Images
Tevez has scored nine league goals this season. Ed Sykes / Action Images

Three weeks ago, after a goalless draw at home to Birmingham City, Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, touched on his side's main problem this season - an over-reliance on the goals of striker Carlos Tevez.

"We must improve so that when we have chances, we score," said the Italian coach. "Our problem is that if Carlos doesn't score, nobody else will. We have had this problem all season."

With City's other forwards being Mario Balotelli, the gifted youngster still finding his feet in English football, Roque Santa Cruz and Emmanuel Adebayor, both the subject of speculation that they will be moving on (perhaps on loan) in January and Jo, the £19 million (Dh108.5m) Brazilian, whose last and only league goal for the club came in September 2008, it is easy to see why Tevez is so important to City's challenge for trophies this season.

That fact is emphasised by Mancini's favourite formation - 4-5-1 - with Tevez on his own up front and five midfielders to provide the chances.

Mancini was not completely correct - other players have contributed to the "goals for" column this season - but of the 20 City have scored in the league so far, Tevez has netted nine.

Even more startling is the contrast between games when the Argentine has scored and those when he has not (including when he was not in the line-up).

Tevez's nine goals came in six games - all victories. In the nine games when he failed to find the net, City won just once, losing three.

Relying on one player more than the others is nothing new. Cristiano Ronaldo netted 48 goals in 2007/08, almost 50 per cent of Manchester United's total.

Liverpool are often said to be a two-man team, with Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard carrying the burden.

But when one player contributes so much to his team, his manager needs to have a back-up plan in case he loses form or, even worse, gets injured.

twoods@thenational.ae

Facts

Manchester United moved into a familiar position last week by replacing Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table and, before Tuesday night’s Carling Cup 4-0 humiliation at the hands of West Ham, they were unbeaten for 29 games, which was the longest run in European football at the time. The club’s critics this season point to the fact that they have failed to hit top gear consistently. They have won just one game away from home – fewer than Stoke City, Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers. But despite their struggles on the road, United are unbeaten in 20 league games stretching back to last season, and that kind of run is what has put them top.

Away wins among top six
Team    Wins    Position

Arsenal    5    3rd
Man City    4    4th
Chelsea    3    2nd
Tottenham    3    5th
Bolton    2    6th
Man Utd    1    1st
* Birmingham, Fulham, Wolves and West Ham yet to win away

In 15 matches this season, Fulham have drawn nine. That equals the record at this stage of a Premier League campaign, set by Ipswich Town (1992/93) and Norwich City (2004/05). If they continue at this rate, Fulham will draw 22 of their games and break the mark of 18, recorded by Manchester City, Sheffield United and Southampton, all in 42 game seasons.

Clint Dempsey’s equaliser for Fulham against Birmingham City on Saturday was the American midfielder’s 26th league strike in five Premier League seasons, scored at a rate of one goal every five games. He is now just 10 goals away from Brian McBride’s record haul  for a Premier League player from the US – 36.

Top-scoring States men

Brian McBride (2003-08)    36
Clint Dempsey (06-present)    26
Roy Wegerle (92-95)    13   
Joe-Max Moore (99-02)    8
Carlos Bocanegra (04-08)    8