No chance for principles as City let the prodigal return
00:41 GMT, 25 March 2012
On the morning of September 28 last
year, a hand-written sign was attached to the gate of a footballer’s
home in Cheshire. It said, quite simply: ‘You Are A Disgrace, Tevez.’
And it seemed to speak for the blue half of Manchester. Last Wednesday
evening in the Etihad Stadium, in the 66th minute of a critical match
with Chelsea, the portly figure of Carlos Tevez was called from the
There was little dissent and qualified
applause. High in the stands, a young man held up a hand-written sign:
‘Welcome Back, Tevez.’
So what had happened to change hearts
and minds in those intervening 25 weeks In truth, precious little. Back
in September, Tevez had remained on the Manchester City bench in
Munich’s Allianz Arena when required for Champions League duty against
Bayern. Some said it was mutiny, others misunderstanding. No matter, the
effect was the same.
Asked for his reaction, Roberto
Mancini was commendably candid: ‘If I have my way, he will be out,’ he
said. ‘He’s finished with me.’
Look who's back: Carlos Tevez made his second substitute appearance for Manchester City since Munichgate
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Reneging: Roberto Mancini hands Tevez a reintroduction to the Premier League
Now, we are told that such views are the luxury of the semi-detached. We don’t understand the pride and the passion of the real fans or their desperate, overwhelming need to finish on top. This is a ‘results business’, you see; we win, you lose, there endeth the argument. And if Tevez can help deliver that title, then so be it. Forgive and forget.
He’ll be leaving on a jet plane come the end of the season, far from the city he so despises. But that remarkably tasteless trophy will reside at the Etihad. Anyway, we shall have been treated to a tumultuous finale to our all-singing, all-dancing Premier League. And that’s so important, don’t you think Well actually, I don’t. I think it’s far more important that the national sport sets decent standards.
It suffers its depressing quota of spivs and fools, hucksters and charlatans. But it has no obligation to make things more difficult for itself. For instance, how can Mancini instruct his young professionals in the correct way to conduct themselves when the former club captain is casually forgiven months of disruptive, self-indulgent petulance because he happens to play a productive pass upon his return And the next time, say, Mario Balotelli goes off the rails, will he not cite in mitigation the absurd tolerance shown to Tevez Of course he will, and properly so. Because these things are never trite, simple, needs-must affairs.
Mancini may well be earning the approval of those who see no farther than the next result, but I cannot imagine that he is comfortable with this cheap populism. I suspect he realises that he and his club have taken a decision which will have profoundly damaging consequences.
A few weeks ago, I heard a distinguished old pro assess the situation in a single sentence. ‘If I was given the choice of winning the League with Tevez in the side, or losing it without him, I’d rather lose it,’ he said. I sense that he was sincere. And I believe he was right.
Fit and proper answer to another fine mess
Fit and proper Craig Whyte
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the more we learn of the noted Scottish entrepreneur, Craig Whyte, the more we marvel at how he was allowed to own Glasgow Rangers.
Were they not warned about his calamitous financial history Did nobody notice that large neon sign above his head, the one which read: ‘Do Not Allow This Man Within 500 Miles Of Your Football Club’ Apparently not.
So Craig became laird of Ibrox, and the roof promptly fell in. The place is a shambles, the repairs will take years and the bill will be ruinously expensive.
The Scottish FA have already decided that he was not a fit and proper person to control a football club, while the Scottish Premier League are likely to reach a similar conclusion. All rather belatedly.
South of the border, there have been a few superior chuckles at the Rangers situation.
True, the English Premier League have been guilty of one or two minor errors.
There was Thaksin Shinawatra at Manchester City and Carson Yeung at Birmingham, not to mention the bewildering ensemble of cards, conmen and brazen chancers who have helped ruin Portsmouth.
But I’m sure that even the Premier League, under the sagacious leadership of ‘Sir’ Dave Richards, would have seen somebody like Craig Whyte coming.
I’m less sure that they’d have done anything about it. But that’s a different matter.
Not even Rivaldo can add to the magic
Regular readers of this column may have noticed that the season has passed without mention of Charlton Athletic.
No matter how stunning the victory, nor how gaping the gap at the top of League One, silence has been maintained, for fear of letting daylight in upon the magic.
But restraint has its limits, so allow me to celebrate the news that Charlton have been offered the chance to sign Rivaldo – and they have turned him down!
Snubbed: Charlton didn't want Rivaldo (left)
Yes, Rivaldo: World Cup winner, 74 Brazil caps, World and European Player of the Year, two La Liga titles with Barcelona. That Rivaldo.
Chris Powell, wisest of managers, considered the proposition, but decided that he didn’t fit his plans.
Of course, the fact that dear old Rivaldo is three weeks away from his 40th birthday may have played some small part in his calculations, but no matter. Charlton have rejected Rivaldo.
Just when we thought the season could get no better!
Joey Barton, the Immanuel Kant of Loftus Road, was abused by QPR fans last week following his particularly inept performance against Liverpool. Lesser men might have been mortified, but our Joey is nothing if not philosophical. ‘They won’t break me,’ he says. ‘Form is temporary, class is permanent.’ And so, sadly, is risible self–delusion.
Melissa Johnson is a self-proclaimed WAG, a prolific Tweeter and the wife of Roger, the captain of relegation–threatened Wolves. Lately she has become concerned by the selection policy of manager Terry Connor. ‘Trying to understand why my hubbys (sic) on the bench right now,’ she tweeted. It’s difficult to be certain, but I wonder if it might have something to do with him turning up for training on a recent Monday morning allegedly the worse for drink Or am I being ridiculous