First there was Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy’s hard stance on Luka Modric’s potential move to Chelsea this summer, now Roberto Mancini has stated that Carlos Tevez will never play for Manchester City again. Are these the first instances of a power shift back towards the clubs?
No, they are not. Luka Modric was told he will get a new contract even though he has four years to run on his current deal and Carlos Tevez seems to have sealed the move away from Manchester that he has openly wanted for months. The smile on Carlos Tevez’s face as he left Bayern’s Allianz Arena last Tuesday said it all. He couldn’t give a monkeys.
While both instances are positive steps in clubs exerting control over their players, they also both serve to show the limitations of that control. The fact that people seem to herald these actions as a hard stance only goes to show how out of hand player power has become.
It seems highly unlikely that Carlos Tevez will receive an adequate punishment. A player refusing to come off the bench and play for his team is one of the most fundamental acts of subordination in the game and surely must breach the terms of any footballer’s contract. For Mancini and Manchester City’s stance to make any impression on players at all, Tevez’s punishment needs to reach beyond a suspension and ideally beyond his own club. Tevez would be delighted if he gets offloaded on the cheap in January and scooped up by any European giant that’s chasing a bargain and Manchester City will have played into his hands. While it may be impossible to ban him from football for a year, that would undoubtedly send a message not only to him but anyone else who thinks they can do as they please without serious repercussions.
Luka Modric may not have quite such a ruthless self-serving streak as Tevez. He remains at Tottenham now only because he has the professionalism to continue, not because his position is not strong enough. Were he to go on strike at this point, he would still expect to find himself at a Champions League club in January.
In an ideal world, Tevez will receive a punishment so severe that unfounded striking by players is unable to persist.
The Modric and Tevez instances point to a promising new attitude but do little to change anything. What we need now is a shining example of what happens when players think they are bigger than the club.