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Last Updated: Monday, 11 September 2006, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Tim Vickery column
By Tim Vickery
South American football reporter

Carlos Tevez
Tevez was instructed to drop deep or go wide and run at the Villa defence

Adapting to life in another country is never straightforward.

Some of the problems are predictable, some less so.

When he left Real Madrid, for example, Michael Owen complained that he had been missing English weather.

The most fascinating aspect of a foreign footballer's experience is that he has to overcome these problems in public - in the case of Carlos Tevez on Sunday, in front of a crowd of 34,576 at Upton Park, plus a worldwide TV audience.

On the evidence of the time Tevez spent in Brazil, West Ham's new number 32 is not a natural linguist. The young Argentine made little progress with the Portuguese language.

But Tevez could sit up all night studying and end up with an English vocabulary good enough to beat Dr Johnson at Scrabble - and that in itself would not solve all of the problems he will face getting used to the Premiership.

The statisticians like to argue that football is a science but really it is culture.

The fluid nature of the activity means that it can be interpreted in so many different ways.

The ball can be passed forwards, backwards, sideways, diagonally, in the air or along the ground, short or long, with left foot or right.

The sheer amount of options is one of the factors behind the game's global success.

A nation can express itself through the choices taken on the field. Football is a universal language that is spoken with different accents.

English and Argentine football have several points in common.

Traditionally rooted in the collective urban working class experience, both set great store on the passion generated by the supporters.

Knitting Tevez into the West Ham side will require time and patience

The Premiership is so popular in Argentina exactly because people can easily relate to the atmosphere created in the English stadiums.

But they are also very different.

English football prioritises the possibility of territorial advancement over the certainty of retaining possession.

The Argentine game does the opposite.

It follows, then, that in England the ball is more often struck into space for a player to run on and collect, while in Argentina the pass is more frequently played to feet.

These differences were apparent in the bright half-hour that Tevez played against Aston Villa as a second-half substitute.

Hammers boss Alan Pardew was honest enough after the match to confess that he did not really know how Tevez was going to fit into his side.

He did say, though, that he had instructed his debutant striker to drop deep or go wide, with the idea of picking up possession and running at the Villa defence.

It worked reasonably well but there were times when Tevez had found space in the centre of the pitch only to see a team-mate hump the ball into a blind alley further down the flank.

Either deep or back to goal on the edge of the box, where his strength and skill on the turn make him so dangerous, Tevez will want the ball played to his feet.

Knitting him into the West Ham side will require time and patience - a virtue that Javier Mascherano is already having to display.

Mascherano spent the entire 90 minutes on the bench - even though Pardew said that he had looked especially impressive in training and West Ham at times looked in danger of being overrun in the centre of midfield.

But having to win your space is one of the challenges of anyone who chooses to move to a different country.

  • Tim Vickery takes part in Up All Night's World Football phone-in every Saturday morning at 0230 BST on BBC Radio Five Live



  • SEE ALSO
    Pardew respects Hammers tradition
    11 Sep 06 |  West Ham Utd
    West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa
    10 Sep 06 |  Premiership
    West Ham sign Tevez & Mascherano
    31 Aug 06 |  West Ham Utd


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