Tevez Biggest Loser in Sorry Saga
"When the dust settles it is unlikely that any winners will ultimately emerge"
February 8th, 2012
At his side, Manchester City, were playing their way to a 3-0 win against Fulham that saw them continue atop of the Barclays Premier League, Carlos Tevez was a long way from the snowy North-West: some 6,935 miles away making an appearance at former Argentine international Martin Palermo’s testimonial match.
It was not meant to be this way of course; Tevez had very quickly played his way into the hearts of the City faithful with a series of whole-hearted performances since arriving at the club. Such was Tevez’s influence on the side that it is not remiss to suggest that without him, the progress City have made to date may not have been achieved quite as quickly as it has. The very fact that Tevez was snatched away from Manchester United was reason enough for many to confer hero status upon him, but even those who remained unsure – largely on the back of a reputation for not being a ‘pure’ goalscorer – were quickly swayed. Tevez’s work ethic and commitment were unquestionable and his goalscoring record was without compare: the fastest to fifty goals in a City shirt and accounting for around 40% of City’s goals and assists during his first two seasons at the club.
Throughout the latter stages of the 2010/11 season though there existed an uneasy truce between Tevez and Roberto Mancini following Tevez’s very public transfer request in December 2010. The request was quickly withdrawn by the Tevez camp (with no improvement to his contract), with a reassurance that it whilst family issues remained an issue Tevez had no problem with Mancini – a statement contradicted by Kia Joorabchian (staunch defender of interests or puppet master depending upon your viewpoint) recently – and Tevez played out the remainder of the season and helped guide City to FA Cup success and Champions League qualification.
Matters were blown apart though in September when, during a Champions League tie in Munich, Tevez – a substitute (which he had been for most of the season following Coppa America participation) refused to a) warm up or b) actually come on as a substitute. A clearly animated Mancini announced post-match that Tevez was “finished” and despite remaining a City player this (non) action was Tevez’s last as a City player with him spending the best part of the past three months back in Argentina and out of the pocket to the tune of £9.3 million in unpaid wages and bonuses – a matter Tevez has decided to appeal to the Premier League.
City – and specifically Mancini’s – position though has undeniably been strengthened by their performances this season. Even allowing for underachievement (on the whole) in the Cup competitions, their season to date has been deemed a success and at the two-thirds point of the 2011/12 season they hold a slight advantage over neighbours Manchester United in the race for the title. However, had City have struggled in the league – perhaps on the fringes of the Champions League positions and some way back from top spot – the backing Mancini and the club have had may not have been quite so unanimous and the clamour for his return – however unpalatable – may have begun to intensify.
As it is, City have hardly struggled for goals with Tevez’s compatriot, Sergio Aguero, stepping up the fore as Mancini has cast off some of the shackles imparted on the team last season. If anything, his absence has allowed City to be less one-dimensional, less reliant on the individual talent of Tevez with others stepping up away from the restrictions that the dominant personality of Tevez cast on the playing style.
If January held out hope of an exit for Tevez he was to be disappointed. The three likely candidates – Milan, Inter and PSG were all heavily linked, with talks between the clubs and Tevez’s representatives reported but the clocked ticked down and Tevez remained a City player. There were even outlandish claims of swap deal with Liverpool’s Andy Carroll, swiftly dismissed by both clubs. There remain options for a departure as both the Russian and South American transfer windows are still open but at this point there is nothing save for rumour and suggestion as to any interested parties; a half-time stroll on to the pitch may be the closest Tevez comes to pulling on his boots any time soon.
At last Friday’s press conference, Roberto Mancini even hinted at the possibility of a return to the fold for Tevez – providing certain conditions are met – and the Argentine was named in City’s 25-man Premier League squad. Yet this was surely a pragmatic move by City (especially given City named only 23 players) and one made to stave off any threat of legal repercussions as opposed to any genuine intent to re-integrate a player not so much marginalised, but well and truly ostracised by the club.
The most difficult thing to gage in the whole unsavoury issue is quite what Tevez’s (or his advisors) motives are? Just what is the intended consequence of their actions; their determination to force a move away from City? Agitate for a move all you like but the market in terms of destinations is – and always – was a very limited one.
After all, how many clubs could offer the money, afford the status and provide the competition that is available by playing at City? Here you have a player whose ego and wallet were indulged in equal measure – to some tune as well – and was the focal point and heart of a side that won the FA Cup (with Tevez himself lifting the famous old trophy) with City now find themselves legitimately challenging for the Premier League (the most high profile, and possibly the best league in the world) and look to be a fixture in the Champions League. Yet if this is still not enough what could serve to satisfy?
When the dust settles it is unlikely that any winners will ultimately emerge, yet it looks increasingly certain that it is Carlos Tevez who ends up as the biggest loser in the whole sorry saga.
Words by Danny Pugsley