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In the rogue cop film classic ‘Training Day' Oscar winner Denzel Washington gives
his take on the relative importance of perception and reality.

“It's not what you know,†he tells his greenhorn sidekick. “It's what you can
prove.â€

United fans will hope that Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez can prove the worth
of their strike partnership, despite common sense suggesting that the players
are too similar.

It's not just the powerful, broad-shouldered physique which the players share.
Both are warriors and operate at their best in the same area of the pitch, a few
yards behind the point of an attack.

Sir Alex also appears to be unconvinced that the partnership is ‘natural.' The
manager greeted the return of Louis Saha with all the enthusiasm women
reserved for stockings and chocolate during wartime privations.

The rumour mill continues to suggest that Tevez was at least United's third choice
option last summer. United were / are very interested in the Spur Dimitar
Berbetov but could not prise him away from White Hot Plain. The same goes for
the highly-rated Dutch striker with the astonishing goals record Klaas Jan
Huntelaar. The player is said to have rebuffed United's interest and decided to
soldier on for just one more season in Ajax's colours.

With Ferguson apparently unwilling to pursue the talented but unpredictable
globe-trotter Nicolas Anelka, United were left to swallow all their misgivings and
hold their nose as Carlos Tevez and his Rasputin, the saturnine Kia Joorabchian,
emerged as the least worst option.

Cue talk of the Tevez –Rooney dynamite to come.

“I know people say both players like to drop behind a mean striker but if you look
at the FA Cup final against Chelsea, Wayne played up front on his own and was
absolutely fantastic,†Ferguson told the Times last July. “That is where I see his
future anyway and that is why I believe he can play in the same side as Carlos
Tevez.â€

The manager's choice of words was curious. Surely it is a question of whether
Tevez can play in the same side as Rooney!

“On that final day, Carlos showed against us, as he had done against plenty of
others before, that he can be a real threat when he is pushed a bit further
forward,†Ferguson added. “He can beat a man, which is a major asset. That is
the real advantage of having someone like him on board.

“Of course, Wayne can also drop in and give defenders a problem, so between
the two of them I think they can become a real handful.â€

Sir Alex's hunches have been proven right so often that fans are minded to hold
their tongues despite the enormous sense of relief that accompanied Louis
Saha's return to fitness.

However, to no-one's surprise, the French striker is again unfit, leaving United
with Tevez and Rooney as the club's most capable forwards.

The goal heist against Wigan schoolboys was a welcome tonic. Both Tevez and
Rooney were on the score sheet. The standing ovation accorded to Tevez on his
late substitution was confirmation of a satisfactory afternoon's work.

But scuttling a Wigan side in freefall is one thing. How United will fare against
more organised teams with better defenders, is a question for which Tevez and
Rooney are still looking to provide a conclusive answer.

Of course, some partnerships take time to come together, with understanding
being anchored only after hours on the training ground. But then, is that only
when square pegs are being filed to fit into round holes?

United fans will need no reminding of the instant telepathy of Cole and Yorke.
Teddy Sheringham was so good that he could play with anyone. As in boxing, so
it is with football. Style is everything.

Tevez and Rooney didn't look like Fred and Ginger against Chelsea but no-one
cared as Tevez opened his United account and United got the right result.

Sir Alex will hope for more of the same later today at Villa Park. United should
expect a stiffer examination of their attacking credentials with Martin O'Neill's
team less willing to give the ball away and with the crowd behind them, less
inclined to allow United to reduce the match to a Red forward stroll.

With Rooney only recently returned from injury, it could be February or March at
the earliest before the truth is established on whether Wazza and Tevez have
the game to form a devastating attacking combination.

Until then, Sir Alex will hope that Denzel's motto holds true. Only a failing team
will encourage scrutiny of its flaws.
 
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