I didn't refuse to play: Tevez
WHILE much of English football unites in its condemnation of Carlos Tevez's conduct during those infamous few minutes in the dug-out at the Allianz Arena, the player's camp said he had not refused to come on but had instead told the manager he did not need to warm up for a second time.
With a legal battle looming after Roberto Mancini said the player had refused to come on as a substitute for Samir Nasri, both sides are firmly entrenched in different views of how events unfolded. The crux of the argument is whether Tevez refused Mancini's request to come on - the player said he simply refused an order handed down from the manager that he would have to leave the dug-out and warm up having already done so. It is that explanation that lies behind Tevez's less-than-revealing statement in which he apologised to City fans for "any misunderstanding that occurred in Munich". Tevez touched on the circumstances when he said: "I had warmed up and was ready to play. This is not the right time to get into specific details as to why this did not happen. But I wish to state that I never refused to play."
Having said that Tevez will never play for the club again, Mancini's case against the player rests on his assertion that Tevez withdrew his labour. This is the version he will tell chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak, and the club are looking at Tevez's GBP200,000-a-week ($AU319,000) contract to see how that affects their legal position.
As for Tevez and his camp, they see the picture very differently. They believe that having initially thought he was coming on for Edin Dzeko, who was replaced by Nigel De Jong, Tevez had already warmed up and was then told to warm up again in preparation to come on for Nasri. When the message came from one of Mancini's staff, Tevez refused, saying he was ready to come on.
That message was relayed to the manager who replied that Tevez had to warm up again. Once more Tevez replied that he did not need to and was ready to come on. At that point Mancini lost his rag with Tevez - and Dzeko - and within seconds of that first order to warm up being given, the relationship between manager and player had disintegrated in the most spectacular fashion.
On a wider note, Tevez has also told those around him that he feels Mancini's attitude towards him has become personal and that the City manager is punishing him by leaving him out of the team, rather than judging him on sporting grounds. Although the Tevez camp acknowledge that their player is high maintenance, they point to the likes of Wayne Rooney and Luka Modric, who, like Tevez, have both threatened publicly to leave their clubs over the last 12 months and yet have since been brought back into the fold.
They even point to the case of Cesc Fabregas who, having articulated his desire to leave Arsenal in the summer of last year, played for another season at Arsenal without falling out with Arsene Wenger.
With public opinion squarely behind Mancini, and Tevez accused of having broken one of football's oldest principles - that you do not refuse to play the game - the details of who said what to whom may be dismissed as irrelevant in some quarters. However, they will surely play a key role when it comes to the resolution of this dispute that, in the end will no doubt come down to a question of money - how much Tevez will want before he goes and how much City can save given that a transfer fee now looks an impossibility.
Tevez and his camp were wait to see what City's reaction would be. If they are to stick to Mancini's pronouncement that he will never play for the club again, then it is down to City to make the running on that.
The key figure in the Tevez camp is Kia Joorabchian, the man who brought him to West Ham in 2006 and was part of the consortium that once owned Tevez's registration - sold to City in 2009 - and it is he who will have to sort out the chaos created by the events in Miunich.
Joorabchian is a businessman who, after bringing Tevez and Javier Mascherano to England five years ago, rose quickly to be an influential figure behind the scenes in English football, a lucrative business for those with good contacts with players and clubs. He is not Tevez's agent - because he is not Fifa registered - but he styles himself as the player's advisor. Yet he is also not the puppet master for an empty-headed footballer who does what he is told.
Tevez has always been - to put it mildly - an independent spirit and liable to react in an extreme fashion to what he regards as provocation or lack of respect. His outburst was not a carefully thought-out strategy to get out of City any more than his television interview in Argentina in June in which he described Manchester as "small and wet" and somewhere he would not return "even for a holiday".
Tevez claims he made a lot of the remarks tongue in cheek, and was egged on by the presenter, but even so it showed his capacity to go rogue. A few days earlier he had given an interview to the News of the World in Buenos Aires in which he said he was happy to stay at the club at the request of owner Sheikh Mansour with whom he dealt directly. He was even generous about Mancini, saying although they were "not friends" they had a "professional relationship".
Those two interviews, given within the space of a few days, revealed how volatile Tevez could be about his feelings for the club. A potential move to Corinthians fell through in the summer and, having returned late to pre-season after Copa America duty, Tevez was stripped of the captaincy and lost his place in the team to new hero Sergio Aguero. In that light, you could say the recent events were simply waiting to happen.
Even after the transfer request he put in last December and then the outburst on Argentina TV, Tevez has been able to rely on City fans' support. When he came on against Bolton on 21 August, the first time he had played since the TV interview, he got a warm reception. Whether that relationship survives the latest fall-out is by no means clear.