Carlos Tevez is reaping the benefits of his first full pre-season training campaign with Manchester City, claims his boss Roberto Mancini.
The Argentine striker scored second in the Premier League champions 3-2 Community Shield victory over Chelsea at Villa Park yesterday – Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure accompanied Tevez on the score sheet.
And after returning to the Blues late last season sluggish and out of shape following his six-month sabbatical, Tevez looked streamlined, sharp and dangerous – much to the delight of his Italian manager.
Mancini said: "I am very happy because this year Carlos has worked very well in pre-season and his form is better than last year. Also this year he wants to play football.
"For a player, it is difficult when he does not play. Last season he did not play for six months and this is difficult.
"I expect him to be a very important player. He is a top player if he wants to play.
"Last year we had Carlos for the last ten games and it was important because he scored five or six goals.
"But he was not 100 percent. This year is the first time in four, maybe five years he has done a full pre-season and for every player this is important."
But Mancini admitted that although his side were the better team, the red card show to Branislav Ivanovic for a lunge on Aleksandar Kolarov was the focal point in the game as City overturned Chelsea’s half-time lead.
He said: "It was a good performance. When Chelsea were leading 1-0, we played better.
"It is an advantage to play with an extra player. It had an impact on the game. It is impossible to say no because 11 versus 11 is different to 11 versus ten.
"But we played better than Chelsea, played better football."
New Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo – who lead the Londoners to their first-ever European Cup triumph last year – claimed that Manchester’s newest champions are the favourites to retain their title.
He said: "They're the champions. We have to catch up 25 points from last season. They are the favourites, no doubt about it, and United will be chasing City as well.
"They've kept the squad together, a strong squad. I'm not sure if they'll make more signings, but they're a strong team."