How Do You Solve a Problem like Carlitos?

By Matthew West, Wed 28 September 2011 08:35


How Do You Solve a Problem like Carlitos?

Carlos Tevez and controversy are seemingly synonymous with each other, like supporter and fan, or Tevez and mercenary for that matter. Since his arrival in the Premier League alongside compatriot Javier Mascherano in August 2006 there never seems to be a season, or more accurately a month, that goes by without Tevez appearing in the newspapers for one reason or another.

His time at West Ham was successful, from a playing perspective, as it was the tough little Argentine's goals that kept them in the Premier League at Sheffield United's expense. However, controversy had already arrived. Tevez and Mascherano, now departed, were not actually West Ham players. Through some shady dealings, instigated by the equally shady Kia Joorabchian and his Media Sports Investment, Tevez had been "loaned" to West Ham but was still actually owned by MSI, an ownership that contravened Premier League rules. West Ham were fined.

You could argue this was beyond Tevez's control, hardly his fault that football's murky financial side was so difficult to understand and regulate, but it was a controversy nonetheless, and Tevez's fingerprints were all over it.

Manchester United was Tevez's next destination, but not before more controversy. West Ham claimed ownership of Tevez, and demanded a fee of £20m, Joorabchian took out a high court writ to force West Ham to release his registration as he felt MSI were the true owners.

Eventually he left West Ham, who received £2m, despite United paying ten times that figure for his services. However he wasn't a United player, this was a two year loan deal. His time at United was probably his least controversial, winning trophies, and fans hearts. Aside from a few minor strops about playing time, he was, if not quite a model professional, certainly no worse than your average Premiership prima donna.

When his two years was up, and despite United wishing to purchase him outright, Tevez refused to stay, and ushered the next controversial period in his, still short, life by crossing the city and joining United's close rivals, Manchester City, for a fee rumoured to be anything from £25m to £45m depending upon which unreliable source you chose to believe.

After an initial struggle for form, and a change in managerial team, Tevez flourished at City. Finishing the season with 29 league and cup goals, and being voted City's Player Of The Year. The future seemed rosey, the fans adored him, partly based on his footalling contibutions, and partly because it irritated Manchester United fans so much. Maybe, just maybe, Tevez had found a home, somewhere he could settle. Alas no.

Neither the five year contract, nor the rumoured £150k a week wages, nor being named club captain were enough for Tevez it seemed. A request for a new contract from "agent" Joorabchian was, politely, rejected. With more than three and a half years left on his current extortionate deal this was hardly a surprise. Suddenly a written transfer request was handed in citing "a breakdown in relationship with certain executives and individuals at the club".

You'd be forgiven for wondering why a handsomely rewarded striker for a Premiership team either needed, or wanted, a "relationship" with club executives. The reasons given rang hollow, the words sounding more like those a certain Iranian "adviser" (his new title once agent was removed as an option) would make instead. City rejected the request, described his reasoning as "ludicrous and nonesensical" (which was being kind) and stated he would not be sold. "Clear the air" talks lead to the transfer request being withdrawn and Tevez to declare his "absolute commitment" to City.

Fans might have found this one hundred and eighty degree switch hard to believe, however Tevez's performances on the pitch belied these concerns as he ended the season as Premiership top scorer, lifted the FA Cup and passed the 50 career goals mark for the club. However this is Tevez, and the next "issue" was not to be too far away.

A trip to South America to compete in the Copa America should have seen Tevez more relaxed and happy in his environment, however instead it prompted another request to leave the club. This time it wasn't an issue with the club, it was "family concerns", his partner and children, apparently, hated Manchester, and he simply couldn't be without them. City, for their part, seemed willing to let their troubled star leave, but only for the right price. A failed bid by Corinthians was as close as Tevez came to leaving as it seemed his desire to be with his family wasn't quite strong enough to take the required pay cut to attract potential suitors.

So, the transfer window closed, and Tevez was still a City player. He'd now have to knuckle and play until, at least January, right? I mean, as troubled as Tevez seemed to be, he'd never allowed that to spill onto the pitch, so there could surely be no problems. Unfortunately the next chapter in the Tevez saga was to be a truly disgusting one.

Manchester City's first European Cup/Champion's League away tie for over four decades wasn't going to plan, a 2-0 deficit to Bayern Munich needed to be
addressed. Striker Dzeko had been withdrawn, now manager Mancini wanted to introduce Tevez, he had thirty minutes, he could potentially save the day. But he couldn't, or more accurately, wouldn't. When asked to warm up and enter the pitch Tevez wasn't "mentally prepared" to do so. Incredibly Tevez was refusing to enter the field of play.

A sense of duty wasn't enough to prize him from his seat, not to his teammates, his manager or the fans. Not even his monumental wages could get him to move. Tevez was on strike, onee wonders whether he had a strong enough grasp of the English language to shout "scab" at Milner and Kolarov as they had the audacity to fulfil their duty and took to the pitch?

Tevez's actions have drawn widespread condemnation from fans, pundits, journalists and fellow professionals alike (with the noteable exception of Mark Hughes, noteable because he has an axe to grind with his ex-employers, and noteable because his "adviser" is a certain Mr Joorabchian. Hughes couldn't have looked more like he was speaking someone elses words if he'd been painted green, wore a nappy and sung about his wish to fly). Tevez's actions are seen as a demonstration of the selfish attitude of the modern footballer, happy to take the rewards without committing the requisite effort.

So, what now for Carlitos? Mancini, post match, essentially stated that Tevez's future lay elsewhere, he would not represent Manchester City again, certainly as long as he was manager. You'd have to assume this view will be welcomed, and supported, by the fans, and by the wider football community. Tevez's attempts to justify his actions to the media did nothing to placate even his most ardent fans, as he came across as petulant.

So, if Tevez is no longer welcome in the City first team squad, what happens to him? The transfer window is closed, he cannot be sold to anyone until January, and even then who would be willing to bring such a poisonous presence into their club? His price, and his salary, will still be a barrier to most, and his attitude and behaviour may well have detered other suitors.

Manchester City are in an unusually strong position here, however, as they are cash rich. Should they wish they could leave Tevez to dwell in the reserve squad, let him pocket his wages (minus goal and appearance bonuses) and stew with the lesser lights of the City playing staff. From a fans perspective this action appeals greatly, many will want Tevez to suffer for the slight he has delivered to the club they love.

However, from next season, Tevez's huge wages will start to count against City in terms of the Financial Fair Play calculations, it may be that ADUG don't want such a drain on their resources with absolutely no return. It's a tough decision, do you let your heart rule and "punish" Tevez, or your head and cut the losses by allowing Tevez to leave for a cut price deal, or even cancel his contract and let him walk away?

The only thing that, seemingly, is for certain is that Carlos Tevez will never wear the shirt of Manchester City again in anger. If he did I shudder to think what the vociferous, vocal and vehement reaction would be from the City fans, we are willing to overlook most things, but the one thing we demand is effort and fight for the shirt. What Tevez did was, essentially, remove his shirt, squat over it and cover it in a huge, stinking, dump, one presumably filled with home cooked Argentinian fare.

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