x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Manchester City's stand for principles

Carlos Tevez has become the personification of player power, seemingly operating under the assumption that clubs will bow to his every whim.

Carlos Tevez 's approach to the fallout with Manchester City has backfired on the Argentine. Michael Regan / Getty Images
Carlos Tevez 's approach to the fallout with Manchester City has backfired on the Argentine. Michael Regan / Getty Images

There was a time, before player power entered the sporting vocabulary, when it merely appeared a description of a physically forceful footballer. Those were more innocent times, a preferable era.

Now it has become a constant complaint of managers, chief executive and chairmen, an enemy not merely of football clubs, but also of football fans.

Carlos Tevez has become the personification of player power, seemingly operating under the assumption that clubs will bow to his every whim.

Manchester City, it is implied, should let him dictate the terms of the transfer as well allowing him to choose his destination, even though he has not represented them for four months in which he has either been suspended or effectively gone on strike.

City, it seems, are supposed to bend over backwards to get him off the books.

It is an attempt to hold the Premier League leaders to ransom, and it is not his first.

And yet this particular ransom note has been sent to the wrong place. Wealth provides a choice. Poorer clubs would have been forced to capitulate, rationalising that a lesser or even a temporary return on their investment was better than none at all.

City do not want to write off Tevez's transfer fee and pay his sizeable wages, but they can afford to. Moreover, they should be applauded for their willingness to do so.

It is a principled stand in a frequently murky world, one that comes at a cost but may elevate the club's reputation. Few results have done as much for Roberto Mancini's standing as his willingness to exile Tevez after the striker refused to warm up and, the manager believes, come off the bench against Bayern Munich.

Sir Alex Ferguson was among those to praise his City counterpart. It indicated a recognition in the game that Tevez had gone too far, just as there are clubs who refuse to deal with his controversial adviser, Kia Joorabchian. He appears to believe City is a cash cow that can never be bled dry.

It is a major misjudgement, one where the wounds have been sustained by his client.

At 27, Tevez should be at the peak of his powers, a prized player rather than a pariah. Instead, by the time his contract expires in 2014, he could have gone almost three years without an appearance, losing his status as one of the most coveted strikers in the game to become, effectively, an ex-footballer.

That is what makes his a landmark case. No world-class talent has become an outcast at his own club in such a style. Whenever that scenario has seemed possible in the past, someone has backed down.

But City have compromised to keep Tevez happy before; they were willing to structure a deal to suit Corinthians last summer. Their understanding has not been reciprocated. Tevez's hardline approach has backfired.

Whether he actually does rot in the reserves and sulk in the stands or merely plays golf in Argentina remains to be seen.

Whichever, given his talent, it is a crying shame. But he has no one to blame except himself. And Joorabchian.

sports@thenational.ae