Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez has been relentlessly slated in the press for his apparent refusal to come off the bench to aid his struggling teammates in what transpired to be a rather frightened display from City against a superior Bayern Munich in September. Managers, coaches, players and pundits have come out and had their say, but I believe Tevez deserves a good opportunity to express himself before the guillotine falls on his playing career in the Premier League.
Football fans should look upon the Argentine’s recent saga objectively. Yes, he may be on one of the highest salaries in the sporting world, but for two years he’s been nothing less than a hero for Manchester City, earning respect from his adversaries for his breath-taking goals and dogged attitude. He was certainly City’s finest player in the 2010-11 season, scoring 23 goals in 39 appearances for the club, performing at a phenomenal level of skill in each, and earning the captain’s armband as a reward for his endeavour in a team of global superstars. He was a talisman for West Ham and Manchester United, and when he pulled on the sky blue number 32 shirt, nothing about his attitude changed.
So why, in-form and adored by his fans, did he snub his manager and decline the opportunity to play a European game for his club? For me, the answer lies with the kind of atmosphere that is brewing in the Manchester City camp. It is all too obvious that money is the governing factor in our beautiful game, but at City, it seems that the team revolves purely around price. Since their takeover, signings have been conducted willy-nilly, outstanding players mashed together in a Frankenstein of beauty. The team plays superbly, but underneath the force of Aguero, vision of Silva and strength of Kompany lies a deeper, troubling aspect that is new in today’s game. Greed. Did the players come to City on the promise of medals, or the colossal salary on offer? For many, I believe it’s the latter, but with Tevez, I believe there are things more important.
Indeed, we saw Tevez’s disillusionment at City brew in the summer. With his young family apparently his main priority, he seemed ready to leave the Etihad for closer-to-home Brazilian outfit Corinthians, his shadowy agent Kia Joorabchian ensuring the press that his player was willing to take a huge wage cut to move his family back to South America. Clearly Tevez had his family’s best interests at heart, and I held him in high esteem for risking his career and cutting his salary for the good of his children.
Unfortunately, though Corinthians placed a number of bids, his wishes were not fulfilled and Tevez would remain in Manchester for at least the beginning of the 2011-12 season. In interview, he was adamant that he was happy again and that he was ready for another season at City, but it is unlikely this was the case after a summer of yearning for a transfer. I think, like so many other players at City, that Tevez has the ego to think he was more powerful than the club. Refusing to come off the bench was as much a warning as it was a plea – to respect him as a player but also a family man – and although it was undoubtedly the wrong decision in hindsight, I think it was the actions of a desperate man expressing himself in one of the only ways he had left.
Paul Scholes admitted after the Bayern game that he had once also refused to play under Sir Alex Ferguson, in the middle of his career. He was reprimanded and has regretted it since, but as a player of similar stead to Tevez, he alone can understand the City player’s actions. It is a sad day when passionate incidents such as the Tevez saga leave football, and an even sadder one when money dictates everything a player says and does. I say to City: Let Tevez leave, remember him as the great player he was, and not the rare, bad mistake he made.