What does Carlos Tevez's career look like? Has he been a genuinely top draw talent, and can his career numbers indicate any form of decline? These are important questions to discover the answers to, what with Tevez having just one year left on his contract and an important decision to be made on his future this summer.
Why are we looking at Tevez and why now? We at Bitter and Blue have written previously on the question of a new contract for Tevez, and those articles can be found here *link* and also hot on the heels of a couple of articles which looked at the careers of Torres and Van persie *link* and *link* I decided Tevez and his impending contract situation would be an interesting subject to research.
Let's dive in. We know Tevez plays a lot, but how much? We also know he is a top draw Premier League striker, but just how effective has he been and is he showing any signs of age or decline in production?
Carlos Tevez By Starts, Subs And Minutes Played
Farther right = more starts, lower down = more subs, size of the bubble = minutes played.
Here we see Tevez's 7 seasons in the Premier League and it's a mixed bag. Tevez has had 3 full seasons where he logged heavy minutes, and they are seen in the top right hand corner. After that we see the West Ham 'rescue' season, his 'strike' season, his final turbulent year at Man United and, naturally, the yet to be completed 2012/13 season.
In short Tevez has had 3 highly interesting, but low minute seasons at 3 different clubs and 3 full and healthy seasons, this season shall become the 4th of those healthy, heavy minutes years. Not too much we can say about this apart from when healthy and not on strike he is a vital part of Man City's starting XI.
Tevez's Shots and Shots On Target Per 90 Minutes
Using basic shots and shots on target totals would be folly, it's clear that Tevez plays varying amounts of minutes from one season to the next, so we shall normalize his numbers to per 90 minutes.
We have 7 seasons worth of numbers here. Tevez joined Man City for his 26 year old season and it is here, at City, that he has exhibited his best career form.
Tevez's shots per 90 have been above his career average for the total time he has spent at Man City. Averaging over 4 shots per game for every 90 minutes on the field is an excellent achievement. Shots on target are more important, though.
Tevez's shots on target per 90 numbers have been consistently good, with the forward averaging over 1.5 SoT's per 90 minutes. Two seasons stand out: Tevez's 25 year old season where he was in disputes of sorts with Ferguson and was regularly played out wide, and his 28 year old season which was heavily punctuated by the strike. It's this 28 year old season that needs to be treated with caution, yes Tevez posted some excellent numbers but he played just 600 minutes in the league and such a small sample size can occasionally throw out some strange looking numbers. 2011/12 is a season which shouldn't be relied on too heavily to tell us anything about Tevez's performances.
Tevez's goals Per 90
I find it interesting that Tevez has only ever had two very good years in terms of goals per 90, and both of those years came at Man City when he was the undisputed #1 striker at the club. How good a number is 0.71? Well, if we subtract a few games for injury and suspension and add a couple of sub games in there, by my rough count 0.71 goals per 90 would be around 20 goals a year. It is a very strong number, but it must be stated that it isn't an elite, top level number. The elite bracket would be north of 0.80 goals per 90 (around 25 goals a season).
We have discussed tevez's 28 year old season and why too much stock should not be placed on those numbers. But what about this season? Granted, we still have 12 games left to play and this 0.41 goals per 90 number should increase, but it's not beyond the realms to say it's a disappointing slide back to his first 3 years in English football.
Trying to recognize any signs of decline are troubled by that crazy strike season which throws a spanner into the works. The above graph, at first glance, would appear to indicate a decline in the most important aspect of a strikers game: scoring goals. But, remember it is very difficult to evaluate a players season when it comprises of just 600 minutes of action.
What I take away from this chart is this: Make Tevez your number 1 striker and he will score a lot, but he won't score at a world class level and that is what Man City need from their #1 striker- world class results and performance. Tevez, for me would be best suited in the #2 or #3 strikers slot. He possesses suberb footballing gifts, but he is not a genuine #1 striker for a team who want to win all the big prizes.
And here is the crux of the problem: Tevez's contract has a little over a year remaining to run, and a resolution to the problem is usually found in the summer before the contract expires. Do City want to keep Tevez? They should do solely based on his on field performances, but they surely don't want to be paying the same wage that he currently commands. His stats and ability, not to mention his advancing age and the natural decline that it tends to bring, should mean that he cannot and should not continue to be paid like a bona fide #1 striker at a top European club.
Tevez should be retained and designated a slighly reduced role in the team, and that should be done whilst paying him a reduced wage.
Good luck with that, something has to give.