Now the real conundrum for Manchester City

Manchester City’s season may well be defined by what the club decide to do with their troublesome, want-away striker Carlos Tevez in the next few days. With the Argentine now on a fortnight’s gardening leave, City chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak and chief executive John MacBeath will now meet with Roberto Mancini to discuss the next step in their treatment of the former captain.

Mancini’s stance is clear: he wants Tevez gone. A Daily Mail article published online in the early hours of this morning claimed that in the dressing room following City’s defeat on Tuesday, Mancini told Tevez to “go back to Argentina [and] don’t ever come back”. It is known that his senior coaching staff, assistant Brian Kidd and tactical coach David Platt, were just as exasperated with Tevez as the Italian. Club lawyers have been instructed to examine the striker’s contract to see if he can be taken to court for breaching it.

Away from the high emotions of the immediate fallout from Tevez’ petulance, though, City must tread carefully when taking their ultimate decision over where club and player go from here. The post-match phone-in on BBC Five Live suggested there were no Manchester City supporters who had any sympathy for Tevez, and you would probably be hard-pressed to find one. The club are understood to be equally angry with his behaviour – at all levels. But they must consider the financial and footballing consequences of banishing him altogether before taking action.

Tevez deserves no sympathy from the club, that much is clear. Not just because of his actions in the Allianz Arena, but what followed: on the plan on the way home he berated a City press officer (demanding, surely with tongue in cheek, that she show him “respect”), declined to travel from the airport back to City’s training ground with the rest of the squad, then issued an apology to the club’s fans the following morning without addressing it to his club, manager or teammates. If this is Tevez’ idea of forcing an exit from the Etihad Stadium, he is probably going the right way about it.

That said, there are considerations City must take into account before they dismiss the striker. Financially, the club now stands to make a huge loss on a man whose services they acquired in 2009 for a reported £40 million, and whose current wage packet is in the region of £1 million a month. Having failed to find a bidder at the £50m asking price they demanded in the summer, and failed to reach a deal at around £37m with Tevez’ former club Corinthians, the Sky Blues are now faced with the prospect of selling Tevez at a far lower price just to get rid of him. That may not sound like a problem for a club with City’s financial backing, but they have to balance the books with UEFA’s new financial fair play rules around the corner, and Tevez should have brought in more than that.

Dragging this article back to the football pitch for a moment, it is also worth pointing out the lack of depth Tevez’ departure would expose in the City squad at a time when the afore-mentioned fair play rules will prevent them bringing in a big-money signing in January. Aside from the sulking Edin Dzeko and the wildly inconsistent Mario Balotelli, Tevez is the club’s only insurance as the leading striker. Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and David Silva are all much more comfortable in supporting roles, and Emmanuel Adebayor is hardly likely to be willing to return from his loan spell at Tottenham.

The club must also take into account the human beings they employ as players. The majority of the City squad have had nothing but praise for Tevez’ conduct in recent weeks, and it is clear that he is a popular member of the playing staff. His selfishness against Bayern, and the subsequent shunning of his teammates, will surely have shattered more than a few of those relationships. Footballers need to feel that they have the respect, trust and confidence of their teammates in order to truly succeed as a unit. City have enough problems gelling their ever-evolving squad as it is. Tevez could further hinder that process the longer he sticks around, regardless of whether he’s training with the first team or the reserves.

A difficult choice faces Mubarak and Mancini in the coming days. If they stick with Tevez (again) they will retain his undoubted talented and the depth they crave in the squad, at the risk of upsetting other players and infuriating the Etihad faithful. The alternative, disposing of Tevez at the earliest opportunity, is the more emotionally agreeable option but will lose the club money and may leave them under-staffed up front.

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