x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Decision to allow Carlos Tevez to lift FA Cup was injudicious

In Tevez's absence, Vincent Kompany led the team magnificently from the centre of defence and he should have been the one who lifted the FA Cup.

Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, right, and captain Carlos Tevez.
Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, right, and captain Carlos Tevez.

They climbed the famous steps at Wembley Stadium at opposite ends of the queue. Carlos Tevez strode up first to collect the FA Cup trophy and Bernard Halford, the club's life president, brought up the rear. They also stand at the opposite ends of the commitment-to-Manchester City spectrum.

Allowing Halford, who is in his 39th year with the club, 38 as club secretary and one as life president, the rare opportunity to lift the famous trophy was a touching gesture, proof that the club has not lost touch with its roots amid the vast number of dirhams wired electronically from Abu Dhabi to Manchester since September 2008.

The decision to allow Tevez to lift the trophy was injudicious.

Halford is a lifelong City fan. He does not recall the game or the date, but he remembers watching his first City match from the vantage point of his uncle's shoulders.

At the age of 69 he still vividly recalls when the maximum wage for a footballer was £4 (Dh24) for a win and £2 for a draw. Tevez, if reports are accurate, earns nearly £2,000 every hour of every day as City's highest-paid player.

Yet Tevez threatened to derail City's entire season in December when he handed in a transfer request, prompting yet more protracted dialogue for City's power brokers with Kia Joorabchian, Tevez's agent, who is about as popular in the City boardroom as Gary Neville is on the terraces.

City's executives emerged with huge credit from the saga, refusing to grant Tevez's request or appease him with an improved contract.

The "noisy neighbours" conducted their business quietly, in stark contrast to Manchester United; they acquiesced to the demands of the petulant Wayne Rooney, who emerged from a similar situation weeks earlier with an inflated deal.

Tevez was swiftly restored as City captain and that was a mistake. It was a rare moment of player indulgence from the otherwise no-nonsense Roberto Mancini. Retaining a disaffected player as the leader of the team was a poor example to set.

City, in fact, showed they were not, after all, hopelessly lost without the injured Tevez over the last month, sealing a place in the Champions League and victory over arch-rivals United in the FA Cup semi-final.

In Tevez's absence, Vincent Kompany led the team magnificently from the centre of defence and he should have been the one who lifted the trophy aloft on Saturday. Kompany actually had a quiet word in Tevez's ear just before the procession up the Wembley steps and no one would have blamed the Belgian if the words he uttered had been something along the lines of: "It should be me."

The reaction of Khaldoon al Mubarak to the two players when they received the trophy spoke volumes. The City chairman shook the hand of Tevez and embraced Kompany with a hug.

History will remember Tevez as the man who lifted City's first piece of silverware in 35 years, yet winning the Club World Cup, FA Cup and Premier League title at Manchester United in his final season was not enough to keep him at Old Trafford. He is not going to think twice about abandoning City after winning the oldest cup competition in the world.

As he continues his nomadic career, it is hard to see Tevez being rewarded, like Halford was, for his loyal service.

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Football, it is often said, can learn a lot from rugby and that was no better illustrated than last weekend.

Another appalling display of Manchester United players haranguing officials was on display on Saturday. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic sprinted half the length of the field in attempt to bully and pressure the linesman into awarding United a penalty for a questionable foul by Blackburn Rovers' Paul Robinson on Javier Hernandez.

It was a desperate attempt to mask yet another poor away performance and secure the point United needed to secure a well-deserved 19th league title.

It was an incident that left a sour taste in the mouth yet the behaviour of United's players towards officials should come as no surprise when they are managed by someone who has been charged three times in the past 18 months for his comments about officials.

Contrast that with the rugby union match between Saracens and Gloucester on Sunday. Luke Narraway, the Gloucester captain, attempted to question a penalty awarded against his side only for referee Andrew Small to cut him short.

"This is not a discussion," Small said. Narraway did not say another word. Minutes earlier, Kelly Brown of Saracens had attempted to influence the referee by pointing out another infringement by Gloucester.

The referee eventually got tired of Brown's chirping and awarded a penalty against him. "We will keep going like this until you get the message," Small said.

Until the English Football Association act decisively, it looks like it will be a long time before unruly Premier League players heed the message that referees must be respected to protect the fabric of the game.

kaffleck@thenational.ae