x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Manchester City's title bid could hinge on Tevez return

He may not like it, but manager Roberto Mancini must realise that the team's needs are more important than his pride.

Carlos Tevez, left, leaves City’s Carrington training ground on Wednesday. He has been working out alone since his return to the club following an absence of almost three months.
Carlos Tevez, left, leaves City’s Carrington training ground on Wednesday. He has been working out alone since his return to the club following an absence of almost three months.

Carlos Tevez could be the difference between Manchester City winning the league or not.

Roberto Mancini, the City manager, knows the Argentine is one of the very few players who can change a game, win a crucial match. City have plenty of them coming up as they seek a first league title since 1968.

Mancini probably thought he would be fine without Tevez when the pair fell out in Munich in September after the striker allegedly refused to come on as a substitute.

I say allegedly, because both disputed what happened and it's still not clear what Tevez actually did wrong. He was accused by Mancini of refusing to play against Bayern Munich, but charged by the club with refusing to warm-up.

And he has since been charged with breaching his contract by returning to Argentina after the fall out.

Mancini could afford to take a strong line against Tevez in September because he probably felt that Sergio Aguero could replace Tevez.

Aguero is a great player who has done well since his summer move from Atletico Madrid, but Tevez would walk into any side in the world, including a side who can select Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Aguero up front.

City have faltered a little and they need Tevez right now. While Mancini may never want to see him again, it might not be his choice.

The Italian is under tremendous pressure to deliver the title. He could ease that pressure by playing Tevez, who returned to Manchester this week, but the pair are still speaking out against each other.

Tevez acknowledged that they are both headstrong, so how do they find a solution?

City fans are saying that Tevez needs to say "sorry", but in his eyes he has done nothing wrong.

I had a similar situation at Blackburn Rovers with my then manager Graeme Souness. We fell out and he said he would only have me back if I said "sorry" in a public announcement. I refused, not only because I was very stubborn, but because I had done anything wrong to say sorry for.

A meeting was arranged where I said that "things haven't worked out and that I want to put our problems behind us". Souness agreed to this and we had a rather weak handshake.

I didn't actually say sorry and it was all a bit of a farce because we never saw eye-to-eye again. I was soon on my way out of the club. It's a tougher one for Mancini. City are chasing the title and Tevez is popular with the other players.

Joleon Lescott said that he was happy to see him back. I'm sure other City players will feel the same and not just because he can win them football matches. City players like Tevez, just as they did at Manchester United.

I remember Paul Scholes telling me that Tevez was not only a great player, but a good lad too. Scholes is brutally blunt and can be critical if needed, so I trusted his words.

I speak to footballers all the time and I don't hear Tevez ever described as being a "wrong 'un". The media paint a completely different image though.

When I see the media rubbishing Tevez I don't believe it.

The journalists who cover City are always going to side with the club because they need a relationship with the club to do their job. They can toe the club line by rubbishing Tevez, but what if Tevez doesn't deserve to be rubbished, what if he isn't the bad egg that he's accused of being?

City fans are divided on Tevez because of the way he's been portrayed.

They think he should apologise publicly, but for what? City are acting on what they see as a point of principle. Maybe they can afford to, but the needs of a football team may be greater.

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I've been watching my son Devante play for Manchester City's youth team recently. They were knocked out of the FA Cup by Fulham this week and my boy was devastated.

Harry Redknapp's exclusive interview

It was a lesson for him that football is not only about winning, but about dealing with defeat, too. And I'll be honest, Fulham deserved to win.

City have spent a lot bringing some very talented young players to the club, with mixed results so far. It's hard for young players at any big club because they feel like there is a glass ceiling above them and that the dream of being a first team regular is unreachable.

It's especially tough when they see really good players such as John Guidetti do well and yet still be sent on loan. Guidetti is currently scoring for fun in Holland with Feyenoord.

Maybe it is almost impossible for a young player to get into the first team at City, but a player can still get a very good education and make a decent living elsewhere in football.

Andrew Cole's column is written with the assitance of European football correspondent Andy Mitten.

sports@thenational.ae