Manchester City fans, this week, would like to extend their warmest thanks to the Newcastle United chairman, Mike Ashley, who has been doing his best to draw all the sporting attention to himself and his own club, by sacking Chris Houghton and appointing Alan Pardew as manager. In fairness to Ashley, he hadn’t done anything to get the Newcastle fans’ backs up in almost eighteen months, so he clearly had been building up to something good. He wanted someone experienced for the role, so Pardew probably “absolutely raped” the interview.
Ashley’s antics have taken the focus of the sportswriters and broadcasters away from what could have been another over-hyped story this week: That Carlos Tevez wasn’t happy at being substituted in the last minute of City’s win over Bolton. I think most, if not all, of us in the stands were expecting Tevez to finish the game and that it would have been Balotelli to make way for Milner; especially with just ten men on the pitch after a rather harsh red card. Balotelli offers height up front, but he won’t work back and defend as well as Tevez does – I know what I would have done, but, then again, my experience of managing in the Premier League extends only to computer games.
Tevez was equally surprised and more than slightly miffed at it, too. A shake of the head, a stroppy expression, an angry exchange, and a push towards the bench from the manager later, and Tevez is unhappy with life at City, with the manager and with always being substituted in the last minute of the game. You’d have thought that would have been much more widely reported than it was (thanks again, Mike).
Having said that, though, the fact that Tevez was, minutes after being substituted, laughing and joking with the rest of the reserves on the bench didn’t make any of the reports that did surface. Funny that.
In the end, very little of the whole affair made it to the sports news. Party due to the Mike Ashley fiasco, but, actually, mainly because it’s not that much of a story: shock horror – a footballer wants to play a whole football match. And Tevez does have a point, having been substituted 12 times in 18 games all season (only once through injury).
Although to avoid any unwanted negative attention from the likes of Match of the Day, Sky Sports News or match reports (which, bizarrely, contained little reference to the actual match) in The Sun or The Daily Mirror, perhaps the better place to make that point would have been behind closed doors, instead of as he was leaving the pitch. It’s easy ammunition, even if it does tell us something about Tevez’s frame of mind.
Surely this shows that the reports of a man who is considering giving up football or doesn’t enjoy playing the game that he makes a living from can’t be accurate? Surely a man who isn’t enjoying himself will react badly to being taken off the pitch? A man who wants to stay on and play until the end of the game and contribute to the team and carry on working as hard as he always does will be unhappy; a man who doesn’t wouldn’t really care.
Virtually all of City’s goals involve Tevez in some way. It’s pretty clear that the club has quite a large dependency on him: He’s this season’s leading scorer (10 goals in 18 games); he’s scored 39 goals in 60 City games; and if he doesn’t score, then City struggle to score also. As a show of his worth, Roberto Mancini made him the club captain.
And some would say that a club captain shouldn’t show outbursts as Tevez did. They do, indeed, have a point: it’s not exactly the best behaviour, but it’s not exactly the worst thing in the world, either. It was a heat of the moment thing, demonstrated by the fact that the player was smiling, laughing and joking before the game had ended.
No doubt, also, Mancini had his reasons for the substitution, which will have been explained to Tevez afterwards.
But that doesn’t stop the media, the print press in particular, from suggesting that all isn’t well in the camp, though. Of course, City are the big story of the last few years, especially since the takeover from Sheikh Mansour, and critics will always point out the smallest of failings, linking them to the amount of money that has been (and, in the future, probably will be) spent.
Until City begin to win trophies, there will be snipes and asides from fans of other clubs, the press will always have grounds to criticise and City will be the topic of the moment, assuming the investment (both on and off the pitch – because a hefty amount has been put into the club behind the scenes) continues. The investment isn’t a magic key to success, but that doesn’t stop people from saying it is.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that City had asked Mike Ashley to do something silly, just to take the heat off for a while.
Like most City fans, I saw Tevez’s actions as positive. Probably down to my natural bias towards him and City, but, nevertheless, I think it was simply the frustration of someone who wanted to stay on the pitch and someone who would calm down within minutes. Nothing more.
Everybody who has played football has, at some point, been unhappy with their team’s manager or a fellow player, from the Premier League to the god awful Sunday League football matches that I play in (that can only loosely be termed ‘football’). Tevez wasn’t happy with Mancini for all of two minutes. Since then he’s done interviews to explain that their relationship is fine and, with City’s dependence on him and his status as club captain, he’s hardly going to be dropped for the match with Everton (when he’s back from suspension).
Nothing to see here, people. Move along.