The great soap opera that is Manchester City unveiled its latest twist this week – the return of its greatest villain, Carlos Tevez. Fresh from the golf courses of Buenos Aires, Tevez put in a short but significant shift providing an assist for Samir Nasri to claim the winning goal and a desperately needed 3 points against a resurgent Chelsea. But what is the moral of this very peculiar narrative?
1. “Temper gets you into trouble. Pride keeps you there.”
The abridged version of the Tevez Saga is simply that two stubborn men had a petty argument that could easily have been shrugged off the very next day were it not for their puffed up sense of masculine pride. But has either man really swallowed his pride in the resolution of their conflict?
Roberto Mancini insisted relatively early on that Tevez must apologise in order to play again, and Tevez did apologise… technically…
“I wish to apologize sincerely and unreservedly to everybody I have let down and to whom my actions over the last few months have caused offense.”
Just a week after claiming to have been treated like a dog by Mancini, Tevez issued an apology without ever accepting any responsibility for the situation. Tevez effectively slapped the club in the face and his apology was a less than comprehensive Sorry, I guess you don’t like getting slapped in the face, huh?
Both men did the very minimum needed to get on with business without showing any contrition whatsoever. Pride very much unswallowed.
2. “It’s only a game.”
Of course, prior to insisting on an apology, Mancini declared to the world that Tevez was “finished” at Manchester City. Many City fans responded enthusiastically to the “Trash Your Tevez Shirt” scheme, which needs little explanation. Lots of people were making very clear and final gestures that Manchester City’s first captain to raise a trophy in 35 years was done.
Tevez’s return was met with a mixture of suspicious applause and a smattering of boos by the City faithful, followed by a song of support for Mancini. The message after all of the off-pitch drama seemed to be “impress us”.
In his 25 minute support slot, Tevez’s performance on the pitch made him the headline act. That’s right, you probably forgot, but Tevez is an outstanding player capable of contributing to just about any team on the planet. The Etihad Stadium erupted at the goal, and the players embraced Tevez like nothing had changed proving that what happens on the pitch is always bigger than what happens off it. Right?..
3. “Money talks.”
While neither the club, nor Tevez have made any official noise about their plans beyond the end of the season, it is very telling that the grand reconciliation came about so soon after January’s transfer window failed to turn up a suitable offer for Tevez’s services. Everyone at the club is putting on a display of “happy families”, but Tevez and City have been trapped in a loveless marriage by a lack of interest from other clubs and both parties are making the best of a less than perfect situation. From Manchester City’s perspective Tevez’s golfing holiday did nothing for his market value, and from Tevez’s perspective he wasn’t getting paid. His return allows City to showcase his abilities to potential suitors and allows Tevez to get his juicy wages. In football as with the rest of the world, money most certainly does talk.
Some people will tell you that Tevez has made a mockery of the City hierarchy, while others will insist that Tevez has been played by the wily Mancini, but if Tevez gets his ideal move, City get their juicy transfer fee, and crucially, if the reintroduction of Tevez gets everyone a Premier League winners’ medal, it will be difficult to insist that anyone at the club has lost anything from the conclusion of City’s latest comedy-drama.