Ferguson still hopes that Tevez will stay
Sir Alex Ferguson hopes when he looks at his medals at the end of the season Carlos Tevez thinks Manchester United is the place to be after all.
Tevez set alarm bells ringing at Old Trafford earlier this week when he recorded a radio interview in South America during which he claimed it was likely he would leave United when his two-year loan ends.
Frustrated at a perceived lack of opportunities, the former West Ham star has had offers from Spain and Italy, although he has not totally ruled out the possibility of remaining in England.
And Ferguson certainly has not ruled out the possibility of Tevez staying at United, where the 25-year-old won both the Premier League title and the Champions League last term and could yet repeat the feat this year.
"I think he genuinely wants to stay here,'' said Ferguson.
"That is something we are trying to work towards. I have told him that repeatedly.
"Maybe at the end of the season if he has won something or achieved something, he will look at the overall picture and realise he has made a contribution. I think he will stay. I hope he does."
Although Tevez established himself as a first-choice member of Ferguson's starting line-up in his debut season at Old Trafford after joining in a complicated move from West Ham, with his advisor Kia Joorabchian apparently getting a small 'fee' for the deal, appearances this year have been severely restricted.
And clearly the Argentinian does not view games like Sunday's FA Cup semi-final with Everton, when Ferguson decided to field four teenagers, as the same standard as a Champions League quarter-final with FC Porto, to which he contributed just 18 minutes.
"Carlos has played more minutes that Rooney and Berbatov this season,'' argued Ferguson.
"He has played in quite a few big games.
"I don't want him to be unhappy that's for sure because he is an important player for us.
"The difficulty is when you have the options I have got, it creates problems.
"All the good players want to play in every game but you can't do that in this league, it is impossible.''
Ferguson can have no complaint over Tevez's workrate, which is the equal, if not better than that of Wayne Rooney, who himself never seems to stop.
His goal ratio could be improved, particularly as four of his present tally of 13 came in one Carling Cup win over Blackburn in December.
But it is the equal of Berbatov's. And there is no doubting which of the two most United fans prefer, even if Ferguson claimed the Bulgarian was genuinely distraught at his woeful Wembley penalty miss last weekend.
"It was a bad penalty. He knows that,'' said the United boss. "He was down about it.''
More of an issue is the weak bargaining position the Red Devils find themselves in.
As someone who never allows the contracts of key men to dwindle down long enough for them to consider a Bosman transfer, Ferguson always knew the loan arrangement for Tevez was fraught with danger.
It has been suggested United need to pay a transfer 'fee' upwards of £30million to seal Tevez's registration. Even without the club's massive debt, it is unlikely the Glazer family could justify spending such a large sum of money on a player who is not a certain starter.
And the uncertainty leaves the way open for potential suitors to muscle in.
"We are vulnerable because of the loan situation, there is no question about that,'' said Ferguson.
"It is the weakness and when he is questions by journalists it is loaded towards that. It can lead him into saying things he doesn't really believe or mean.''