Unsettled Tevez is a 'problem' for United

Ferguson accepts his striker is frustrated with life on fringes at Old Trafford

Sir Alex Ferguson has acknowledged for the first time Carlos Tevez's frustration with life at Manchester United and the fact that he is looking for a new club at the end of the season.

Ferguson displayed mild indignation when Tevez's midweek comments to Argentinian radio were first raised yesterday – "Well, he's played more minutes than [Wayne] Rooney and [Dimitar] Berbatov this season," the United manager said. In fact Berbatov and Rooney have both started 32 games this season to Tevez's 31 and by any measure he has enjoyed less football – 1,591 minutes of Premier League football for instance, to Berbatov's 2,183 and – more significantly – Tevez has featured in fewer important games.

His omission for the 3-0 home win against Chelsea in January upset him more than being a bystander in Champions League football, where he has had 325 minutes of action to Rooney's 708. "I don't want him to be unhappy because he is an important player for us," Ferguson said. "The difficulty is when you have got the options I have got. I bought another striker in, with Berbatov as well as having the option of playing [Cristiano] Ronaldo as a striker – you create problems for yourself because all good players want to play in every game. But they can't in this league – it is impossible."

Ferguson, whose side play Berbatov's old club Tottenham at Old Trafford this evening, also faces the challenge of Berbatov's struggle to assert himself. There were boos in his direction at Old Trafford during Wednesday's match against Portsmouth and Ferguson said United fans must put his dreadfully tame penalty miss against Everton in the FA Cup semi-final last Sunday behind them. "It was a bad penalty and he knows that," Ferguson said. "He was disappointed in himself, don't worry about that. He is down about it."

Tevez is the more serious problem, though. His craving for regular starts makes Manchester City a far more likely English destination than any other club and Mark Hughes wore a grin yesterday. "As situations with players at other clubs develop I'm sure we'll get associated with Tevez," the City manager said.

The Independent revealed City's interest in the player four months ago. The nature of Tevez's contract at United – he is on loan from investment companies headed by Kia Joorabchian – makes him vulnerable to other clubs coming in. "That is our weakness," admitted Ferguson. He believes that Tevez's inclination only to do interviews with South American media causes him to be misquoted but that was not the case this time.

Ferguson, who may hand Ryan Giggs his 800th game for United today, said he will have Rafael da Silva in the problematic left-back slot and has Rio Ferdinand back after a rest against Portsmouth. He will know by the time the game kicks off whether Liverpool, who play at Hull, are in need of an even greater "miracle" than the one their forward Dirk Kuyt has suggested is required for United, three points clear with a game in hand, to be caught.

Ferguson did not resist another minor dig at his prime adversaries' manager Rafael Benitez. "He's definitely saying a lot," he said of the Spaniard. "I'm happy he carries on with it because I've got to trust my players." But Benitez, who will be without Steven Gerrard for a fourth successive match, rejected a report that he had further goaded Ferguson by saying Liverpool had the better team. "It was an old interview and they changed the words when it was translated," he said.

Benitez said his gesture which offended Ferguson against Blackburn was aimed at his midfielder Xabi Alonso. "We were laughing after the free-kick. That was it." But he is not laughing about Spain's likely need of Fernando Torres in the Confederations Cup in South Africa this summer to be followed by Liverpool's need of him in the pre-season tour of Thailand and Singapore. "We have five players who have to go to the Confederations Cup," said Benitez. "The idea is we will give them time but they have to be with the team during the pre-season."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy