x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Tevez's behaviour leaves City relationship at breaking point

Mutiny in Munich has made Carlos Tevez's relationship with Manchester City very difficult to salvage.

Carlos Tevez, centre, has caused anger with his refusal to come on as a substitute for Manchester City against Bayern Munich.
Carlos Tevez, centre, has caused anger with his refusal to come on as a substitute for Manchester City against Bayern Munich.
Having first divided Manchester, Carlos Tevez is now uniting it. Neither United nor City appreciate the great controversialist any more. A man with a habit of running defences ragged is running out of options.
Tevez's actions in Munich represented the nadir of his time at City, not merely because he did not take the field when summoned to be a substitute, but because the court of public opinion is ready to declare him guilty.
The well of goodwill that once ran deep is now almost dry. This, for supporters, was the ultimate crime, committed against them and their club and an insult to those who, albeit indirectly, pay his wages. The people's champion lost touch with his electorate.
Yet he was initially taken to the hearts of fans at each of his three English clubs, a one-man whirlwind of energy and, more often than not, goals, many of them vital.
As the first City captain to lift a major trophy in 35 years, he will always merit a place in the club's history, but it is hard not to view him as part of the past now. Roberto Mancini's repeated use of the word "finished" sounded definitive.
The relationship between manager and talisman, never close, has unravelled. Nevertheless, in giving Tevez the captaincy last season, Mancini put their personal coldness to one side.
Two transfer requests in seven months altered the equation; the first time, City fought tooth and nail to keep Tevez; the second, they set a price that no one met. There was only so long they could attempt to placate the Argentine.
A flurry of motives for his wanderlust have been advocated. But legitimate, even laudable, reasons such as a father's wish to live nearer his two daughters or an inability to settle in Manchester, now have less credence. It is difficult to see how either influenced the impasse in the Allianz Arena.
The backtracking striker attempted to explain himself to the television cameras and then released a statement nine hours later.
Holes can be picked in his different arguments - if he was not mentally ready to enter proceedings, why did he not inform Mancini before kick-off or, at the least, at half time? If he did not refuse to play, why did he not take the field? But in claiming confusion, Tevez was making a familiar case.
During his time in Manchester, there have been too many misunderstandings to suggest everything has been lost in translation.
In this instance, the real victim of the mix-up was the unfortunate Pablo Zabaleta, the loyalist right-back who doubles up as interpreter, who Mancini also blamed in the heat of the moment.
The notion that football is a universal language can be exaggerated, but the Italian and the Argentine can communicate in Spanish. In any case, the instructions appeared clear.
But in the days of sizeable squads, Tevez is not suited to being on the sidelines. There were few complaints from United during his first season, when he started and starred, but rather more when he was demoted to the bench for much of the 2008/09 campaign.
The theory at Old Trafford was that he is a poor trainer, who could only acquire sharpness, as well as satisfaction, by playing, and was awkward when sidelined.
It was never an issue at City until this season. But for the probability the unsettled Tevez would leave, perhaps Sergio Aguero would never have been signed. He was, however, and the 23 year old is deservedly ahead of his countryman in the pecking order.
Then Tevez was overlooked three times in the space of four days. Mario Balotelli, rather than him, was brought on to end Everton's stubborn resistance on Saturday and, while there was a theory, which Tevez seemed to believe, that Mancini would revert to last season's system, with the 27-year-old alone in attack, against Bayern, he did not.
Then Nigel de Jong, the defensive midfielder, not the Argentine, was the first replacement required. It was grounds for frustration, though the appropriate response would obviously have entailed proving a point on the pitch.
To do otherwise is to ask for preferential treatment from an increasingly unsympathetic Mancini.
The Italian has a doctorate in talented but temperamental footballers, if only because he was one, but he takes the hard-line approach, figuring the critical mass in a dressing room are more important than mavericks who can be malcontents.
And at the heart of the Tevez paradox is a remarkable contradiction in his character.
On the pitch, with his brand of non-stop industry, he is the complete team man; off it - and this sadly includes the dugouts now - he is the ultimate individual.
A player whose committed style of play endeared him to supporters now seems very alone.