Jo gets job done as Tevez saga lingers on
Manchester City 1
Published 17/12/2010 | 05:00
The Italian job proved well within Roberto Mancini and Manchester City's capabilities, but now for Mission Improbable and the more pressing matter of keeping Carlos Tevez in a light blue shirt.
With top spot in Group A and a seeding for today's draw for the last-32 secured by Jo's 77th-minute equaliser, Mancini can at least offer Tevez the carrot of glory in the Europa League when he holds talks with the City captain today to discuss his future at Eastlands.
City had already booked a place in the knockout stages prior to this, so Mancini would have been open to accusations of carelessly diverting his focus from next Monday's clash with Everton had he unleashed his big guns against already eliminated Juve. The prize of finishing top of the group was still worth pursuing, but distractions at home had rendered this game an inconvenience that Mancini and City could do without.
Everton's visit to Eastlands is the immediate priority on the pitch, but the only show in town where City are concerned is the Tevez circus, which will return to prominence when manager and player meet for the first time today since the Argentine's transfer request was made public at the weekend.
Despite a flurry of internet rumours -- denied by both parties -- suggesting that City chief executive Garry Cook had held talks in Turin with Kia Joorabchian, Tevez's representative, yesterday afternoon, the next act will be played out in Mancini's office at City's Carrington training ground today.
Rather than meet with Joorabchian, Cook had actually been spotted with Juventus owner Andrea Agnelli, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Tevez's adviser. The fact that City and Mancini want Tevez to stay is undeniable. Doubts still remain, however, over the strength of Tevez's desire to leave and his motivation for doing so.
The Europa League draw will be the last thing on Mancini's mind, despite the prospect of City landing an awkward tie against the likes of Rangers, Sevilla or Napoli. While Mancini would gladly parade the Europa League trophy around the Aviva Stadium should City win the competition next May, it is a distant third on his list of priorities.
The apathy towards this tournament, consigned to the purgatory of Thursday nights, was laid bare with just 6,992 spectators turning up for a game involving one of Italy's most successful club against the richest club in the world. Some home fans in the southern end still disgraced themselves, though. They repeated their abusive chants toward Mario Balotelli, even though the striker was not in City's squad.
Mancini's selection confirmed the Europa League's lowly status, with Liberian forward Alex Tchuimeni-Nimely making a first start alongside Wayne Bridge, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Irish international Shay Given. But City started brightly and Jo should have scored on two minutes when he missed from two yards. It was a bad miss and, having controlled the first half, Juventus took the lead on 43 minutes when Niccolo Giannetti converted Alessandro del Piero's cross at the near post.
Milos Krasic saw a long-range strike tipped over by Given and Jerome Boateng blocked on the line from Nicola Legrottaglie, but Jo's goal took the sting out of the home side. After receiving Adam Johnson's pass, the much-maligned Brazilian beat Alex Manninger with a neat finish from 12 yards. City can rely on Jo in Europe, but Mancini knows which striker is most crucial to his plans. (© Daily Telegraph, London)