Mancini bids to exorcise ghost of bust-up with Tevez
Victory in Europe the main priority
Manchester City yesterday ventured back onto the continent seeking to banish the memory of their pitifully poor night in Munich though there was still no forgetting the man, absent from their British Airways flight, who is proving so obstinately difficult to leave behind.
Roberto Mancini, the man who in an emotional post-match press conference at the Allianz Arena, four weeks back, declared that Carlos Tevez was “finished” at City said minutes before boarding the flight to eastern Spain that Tevez could play again if he would only say sorry.
“Every day, every morning all of us can make a mistake,” he said. “It is important to apologise for what you do and finish. I think it is. I asked him to apologise.
“It is easy. These are easy words. Always.”
The manager, who had been asked by his club not to broach this subject, was speaking more in desperation than hope.
‘Finishing' with Tevez has not been as easy as he thought when he claimed in Munich that the 27-year-old had refused to appear as a substitute.
It is understood that Article 15 of Fifa's regulations — which may allow Tevez to terminate his contract if City refuse to field him — has now been pointed out to the manager.
Mancini admitted that an apology is what he sought when he invited Tevez to his Alderley Edge home recently, the day he flew in from Argentina to be told he faced a misconduct hearing.
“Yes, yes — [but that was] 20 days ago, not yesterday,” Mancini said, his exasperation also evident.
“[As a player] I always apologised. Yes, every time. I told Carlos 20 days ago to apologise.”
He rejected the idea that an apology was hard in many areas of life — “I think these are easy words: very, very easy” — though his assertion that the Argentine's entourage are making him so hard to reach was hardly an olive branch to the Tevez camp. “I don't know his agent but I think that probably the people who stay around him don't advise him well,” Mancini said.
There is also concern at the highest level of the club, whose likely six-week fine of Kolo Toure is expected by next Monday, that Tevez is treated properly on a day-to-day basis, to avoid a constructive dismissal case.
At the very least, Tevez seems likely to rejoin first-team training in the near future and since Article 15 states that he must play for 10% of City's total game time or be entitled to terminate his contract under ‘sporting just cause' next summer, he may get the equivalent of four full games.
For tonight, at least, the spectre of Tevez can be dismissed as Mancini seeks to make good the one blot on City's season to date: Europe.
The manner of their destruction by Bayern Munich, after a promising first half hour, suggested the Premier League may be flattering them and Mancini admitted that it had been a lesson.
“At the moment [Bayern] are better than us in this competition,” he said.
“But maybe — if we stay in [the tournament] then in two months we may play them in the quarter final,” he said. “If we do then I think everything will change.”
There should be less naievity tonight than in Munich, where his players forgot what he told them about Franck Ribery, attacked in numbers and left Gareth Barry facing a flood tide.
“After 1-0 maybe we got too deep as a team [in Munich],” Mancini reflected.
“We conceded a lot of space. I hope we learned from Munich.”
Sergio Aguero's last gasp winner in Manchester against Juan Carlos Garrido's side — whose four key absentees tonight include Giuseppe Rossi and Marcos Senna — kept the European adventure very much alive, though the Argentine's tunnel row after the 2-1 win may have stored up some trouble.
“He is experienced,” Mancini said. “He has played at Villarreal many times with Atletico Madrid.”
Mancini also looks to Mario Balotelli, returning to the Champions League with a reputation which seemed so unlikely when he was sent off in his last game against Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League.
A win is a prerequisite against a side languishing 13th in La Liga.
Mancini is already looking to the tie in Napoli on November 22 as the one which dictate progress.
City's 33 goals in nine Premier League games is the most by any top flight side since the 19th century and if the continue at that rate they will score 138 — a full 33 goals better than Chelsea's 2010 record.
“Records are there so that one team can eventually beat them but this one is impossible,” grinned Mancini, adding that he could do with winning 1-0 — “the Italian way,” as he put it.
That would help him forget his club's current preoccupations.