Though hardly the type of manager to give too much away, Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday confirmed that Carlos Tevez will definitely start against his former club West Ham today and revealed his belief that the Argentina striker was the main reason why there is Premier League football at Upton Park this season.
Tevez's nine-month spell in east London was certainly eventful after his shock arrival along with fellow Argentine Javier Mascherano on transfer deadline day last August. His form was initially patchy, while the Hammers were eventually fined 5.5m after their signings were ruled to have broken Premier League regulations.
But the 23-year-old produced when it mattered, scoring seven goals in West Ham's final 10 matches to keep them in the Premier League. The greater clarity over who owned Tevez convinced Ferguson to move for the Argentine in July and he has scored nine goals already this season.
Ferguson said: "What impressed me the most was his energy and enthusiasm to play. Every time his team had the ball, he was on the move. At West Ham I thought he was fantastic.
"He and Mascherano found it difficult at West Ham at first, because they weren't in the team. But when things started happening for West Ham, towards the end of the season, Tevez was in the team. He was the one who turned it round for them, as far as I'm concerned. Others have a different view, I know Alan Curbishley said it wasn't just Tevez. But I know the League they would be in now if Tevez wasn't there.
"His English is getting better but he does communicate mainly through Carlos Queiroz, Ronaldo and Gerard Pique. But he proves his football intelligence is more important by that I mean his linking with Rooney. Good football brains can react without using the tongue."
Ferguson is adamant that Chelsea, who are seven points behind the leaders and six points behind second-placed Arsenal, are still in the title race but thinks that they should be wary about attempting too much business in the January transfer window.
He added: "These clubs can also buy players to help them through that period and it will be interesting to see what kind of market we've got in January.
"I don't think it's always as good as people think it is but I'm sure, particularly Chelsea, will be looking at the window to galvanise and add to their squad because they've got one or two injuries and four players away with the African Nations. It's not easy to sign top-class players in January.
"But it's been proved in the past that six-point gaps can disappear quite quickly and it happened to Arsenal. Six points is nothing in this league with everyone beating everyone else and it's not a two-horse race."
Ferguson, who confirmed that the youngsters, Ryan Shawcross, Frazier Campbell, Darron Gibson and Liam Martin will be spending the rest of the season with Stoke, Hull, Wolves and Plymouth respectively, also dismissed the various theories about Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick technique.
Holding a piece of paper, he joked: "The secret is on this. Oh no, it's a tip for the 1.30. People have said, 'It's all about the ball and how he shapes his foot'. It's absolute nonsense. Practice makes perfect. I was taught that in school. The boy practises all the time.
"Twenty-five minutes after training this morning, there he is with the balls, with the wall up, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. He takes about 30 free-kicks every day."
Meanwhile, Curbishley believes that Tevez will be given a positive reception on his return to Upton Park and said: "It is well documented that we tried as much as we could to keep Carlos. He played against Man United in the last game at Old Trafford and that was the last we saw of him.
"He never said goodbye to the fans or the players and I'm sure the fans will want to show their appreciation to him for what he achieved."Reuse content