It was the night before September 28th, and a creature was stirring. Manchester City were in the news again, for all the wrong reasons. A 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League seemed almost like an irrelevance compared to the events that had happened just off the pitch, as Carlos Tevez, sick of being treated like a very wealthy poodle, refused to come on the pitch. Mancini was furious, his Latin temperament pushed to its limits, and when he declared Tevez would never play for the club again, few doubted him.
“If I have my way he will be out. He’s finished with me. If we want to improve as a team Carlos can’t play with us. With me, he is finished.”
And yet, approaching five months down the line, here we are. Continual attempts to sell him have failed, and still employed by Manchester City, Tevez today returns to the training ground for fitness tests, defiant, adamant he has done no wrong, and no doubt considerably fatter.
I’ve little doubt that Mancini would be quite happy to get through the season without once calling on Tevez’s services. But then again, if he can make a difference, he may well put differences to one side and look at the wider picture. However much any Ciy fan may hate him, Mancini probably feels the same, so if he is prepared to welcome him back then so be it, we trust in him. , If he was to make the difference, then my feelings for him are irrelevant – I would sell my soul for the League title. Some people seem to have struggled with the idea of him returning, basically equating it to having to welcome him back, forgive him, turn a blind eye to how he has treated the fans, and so on. We don’t have to do any of those things – he can come back and help us to the title without being welcomed, without us forgiving him, without a heartfelt apology – the important thing is that the club does whatever is best for the club – that’s all that matters, and our individual feelings on the matter are neither here nor there. No one is glad to see him, there’s no high-fives from a minority of City fans, just an acceptance that he’s back and the club might as well utilise this fact rather than acting out of spite and sulking.
Of course all this could be nothing more than both sides covering their backs legally – if City want to get some money back on Tevez, they have to be shown to be prepared to play him again, to show they are not to blame for all this, should it end up in a court room – and the same goes for Tevez and his representatives. If he’s not in the Europa league squad, I really can’t see him getting much time on the pitch. Famous last words eh?
But it seems many of the City fans want an apology – they demand it. Without that apology, there can be no return for Tevez, until he accepts that what he has done was wrong. Say sorry and it seems many will accept his return, because that one word will change everything. That one word in a scripted statement that Tevez’s pen will have gone nowhere near. Personally, I couldn’t care less if he apologises. It changes nothing, won’t be sincere, won’t change the past, and won’t help improve results, so is pointless.
It seems Mancini demands this apology too though.
“Ten days after what happened in Munich, I invited him to come to my place to talk. I told him that, if he apologised to me, to the club, to the team, he could come back into the squad. I would have forgiven him. But he replied that he didn’t have to apologise to anyone,” said Mancini on December 5th. And Mancini made it clear on Sunday, following a 1-0 win at Aston Villa that he was still seeking an apology from Tevez.
But ignore the hand-picked comments from Sky Sports News and the tabloids, all happy to ignore the context in a 50-minute article. Ignore the fabricated Daily Mail article about City fans burning his effigy. The basic facts are that Carlos Tevez acted like an idiot, fell out with his manager, but the club couldn’t sell him. Now he’s back on big money as before, and both sides have to deal with this the best they can. He may be detestable, he may have acted terribly, but players are employed not to win popularity contests but football matches, and he has been punished financially for his indiscretions.
And maybe he will apologise anyway. To aid the situation, it is believed Tevez will drop his appeal to the Premier League against a six-week club fine, totalling around £1.2million. And his lovable representative Kia Joorabchian said the other day: “This is between Mancini and Carlos. I think one of the things that is important is that Mancini and Carlos resolve their issue, and I think they have pretty much resolved their issue, behind closed doors and I think what is important is that the football takes over.”
And the striker revealed he was ready to apologise if the club deemed it necessary.
“I do not think I was wrong, but if they (the club) think so I apologise. I am ready to return, to win and do the best for the club’s shirt,” he added.
As for his team-mates, and fears that he will unsettle a title-leading squad, it is not vital that players don’t have to get on with each other – Teddy Sheringham and Andy Cole at Manchester United famously detested each other, though it didn’t seem to do them any harm. Having said that, I’ve seen no evidence that he will come back to a bad reception from the City players. In fact, the opposite seems the case, though the current wave of media-trained players will always say the right thing.
“He is a good player and we’d welcome him back,” said James Milner “He showed how good he was last year (scoring 24 goals). He was fantastic for us. What’s gone on or what’s happening is nothing really to do with the players, but if it gets sorted out, then great. It means it’s another top player for us to add to the ranks.” And as I type, Joleon Lescott has tweeted how he is happy to have Carlos and the Toure brothers back to help City reach their goal.
Mancini is the main concern of course, but Tevez can only be involved in 14 games this season, in my opinion is unlikely to feature more than the odd substitute appearance away from home, and by apologising to all and sundry (without meaning it) won’t really make any difference. City pay him over £200,000 a week – if he can help the club in any way, let him start earning it. Let him off the leash for one last time, and everyone can come out this affair happy. It’s got to the point where neither side has much choice.
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