“If I have my way he’ll be out. He’s finished with me,” said the Italian, his eyes burning with rage and indignation, even if his lovely hair still stayed impressively in place.
The last straw for Mancini in this most volatile of relationships — at least according to the manager — was the fact that the 27-year-old Argentinian had refused to come off the bench to try to drag his City team back into their first ever Champions League away match.
After 55 minutes City were 2-0 down to Bayern Munich and looked utterly out on their feet. But then Tevez apparently refused to get to his, leading to all kinds of unseemly shenanigans amongst the City subs and staff at the side of the pitch.
It was all very embarrassing on a night when City were supposed to have marked their arrival on European club football’s main stage, but ended up looking like a bunch of petulant Under 13s in a bad-tempered Sunday league game.
Tevez, who it must be said didn’t look all that upset or chastened when caught on camera smirking as he left the Allianz Arena, has since apologised to City’s incredulous supporters for what happened. He also said he never refused to play, merely that there was “some confusion on the bench”.
This clearly contradicts reports that claimed the striker said: “I didn’t feel right to play, so I didn’t,” directly after the match on Tuesday.
And anyway, this ‘Nobody knew what was happening’ line seems like total nonsense to me. Confusion can indeed reign in a high-pressure situation. And with City getting a footballing lesson at a ground where Mancini had confidently stated his side would win, this was high pressure all right. But that’s precisely why hierarchies are needed in any group. So that when things are going pear-shaped there are clear lines of command.
How much confusion is there at Manchester United, for example? If Alex Ferguson tells you to get on the pitch and you think he’s telling you to get warmed up, I suspect you’ll get the hairdryer treatment pretty damn sharpish to tell you to stop arsing about and to bloody well get on with it!
The main problem lies in the fact that so many top class footballers have little or no respect for their managers — an attitude that’s only emboldened by their astounding wealth. And presumably they don’t have any respect for the contracts they sign either, which will surely clearly state that most fundamental of footballing conditions, that they’re there to do what their manager tells them.
Tevez’s well-known family problems previously earned him some sympathy at a time when perhaps our less politically correct response would be to tell him to ‘man up’.
You don’t get given 150 grand a week without there being the odd drawback. But I suspect the guy’s problem is more likely rooted in his super-tough upbringing in the suburb of Buenos Aires nicknamed ‘Fuerte Apache’.
In the dog-eat-dog world of his childhood you probably didn’t get too far without a self-interested attitude that’s right off the scale in comparison to those of us with more comfortable upbringings. And you probably then believe your riches have earned you the right to tell anyone you like to piss off. Even your boss. But surely everybody has to learn sometime. And Tevez’s time looks like being now.
Interestingly though, the size of the player’s deal may just prove to be his undoing here. He surely knew that when he crossed Manchester that it was to sign for the richest club in the world. But Manchester City is also probably the only football establishment in the world that can afford not to give a monkey’s about having to keep paying Tevez’s mega-wages, nor care about whether they recoup on their investment. If they want him to rot in their reserves to teach him a lesson, then boy do they have the cash to do it!
At a time when UEFA boss Michel Platini wants to hang football’s nouveau riche out to dry for their perceived lack of sporting values, wouldn’t it be ironic if City became the first club to say ‘no mas’ to this kind of crass behaviour?
And the first club to really mean it?
Lifelong Manchester City fan Howard Johnson is a freelance sports journalist and broadcaster. His writing has recently appeared in The Times, The Radio Times and World Soccer magazine