Tuesday, September 19, 2006

expectations and young Argentineans: Aguero, Messi, and Tevezerano

"If he had played badly, all sorts of things would have been said about him...It is not necessary to heap all this pressure on him, especially when things do not work or when he does not score."

Wise words from Maxi Rodriguez, asking the media and the fans to lay off young team mate Sergio Aguero so that he doesn't suffer under the weight of expectations. His comments came after Aguero put on an electrifying display in the game against Atletic Bilbao, setting up one and scoring another in a 4-1 victory.

Maxi's right, of course - us fans are fickle enough to turn on a dime against anyone. Witness the criticism being thrown Leo Messi's way after the last game against Racing, some going so far as to proclaim that he had started the season badly without putting in enough effort, conveniently forgetting the fact that he scored a goal each in the last 2 games and also had an assist in that difficult game against Celta Vigo where Barca were without Ronaldinho.

Sure, he had an average game against Racing (apparently - about to watch it now), but doesn't everyone, occasionally? As a fan, I'm a bit worried about his starting position after Giuly came on in his place and played brilliantly, but if Valencia decide to field Asier del Horno in the next game at Camp Nou then Messi should definitely start. It would be a fun reunion for the two.

Here's hoping Messi picks himself up - I've never seen him have two bad games in a row, after all. When you start for Barca, you can't afford to.

On to two more young, constantly under-pressure Argentinean maestros, this time in London. Tevezerano - as some have taken to calling them (or alternatively 'Tevez and That Other Bloke') - are under ever more critical scrutiny at West Ham, having failed to help their team to a single victory since they've joined. That might sound damning, but given the fact that neither of them are what you'd call match-fit yet, it's also fairly predictable. Mascherano apparently gave his usual assured display against Palermo and was taken off at half-time against Newcastle for a more creative player - which is fair enough. Tevez hasn't really found his scoring boots yet, despite creating good chances whenever he's on the field and hitting the bar with a free-kick against Newcastle before also being substituted at half-time or thereabouts.

I'm not worried just yet - it'll take them time to settle, but I think Mascherano in particular will succeed in the Premiership. His style is well-suited to it. However, it does irk me to see everybody blaming all of West Ham's problems on the two of them. Surely the fact that West Ham have not defended well, plus Alan Pardew not knowing what his best eleven looks like, is more responsible for their losses than two 22 year olds who have yet to settle in?

Tevez and Mascherano both adjusted well to life in Brazil, winning over initially hostile fans with dedication, hard work, and sheer skill. Lest anyone forget, before the World Cup Tevez was the captain of Corinthians, and an idol of the fans having led them to the title. He was also the best player in the Brazilian league by popular acclaim.

They can do the same in the EPL, I'm sure. Just give them a little space and time.

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