ROBERTO MANCINI, like all football managers, would chew off his right arm to win a Premier League title. While the pressure draws blood from his face, the unthinkable becomes logical.
By the time Carlos Tevez was stripped and ready to play at Eastlands last night, Mancini had nibbled up to and including his elbow. Chelsea were a goal in front after an hour via a lucky deflection off a Gary Cahill shot and seemed to still possess some of the renewed vim and vigour shown since Andre Villas-Boas was dumped.
It didn’t last beyond Cahill’s goal and a determined push forward produced half-chances and good chances for Manchester City. They owned the ball but couldn’t buy a goal.
Stand up Carlos and this time he did. With little fuss and a very mixed reception from the crowd, Tevez trotted onto the pitch as if he was never off it.
He didn’t do much to start with; just a few feints and a square pass or two from a player who looked like he needed to shed a few more pounds.
Tevez couldn’t take any credit for the equaliser when it came. That was all down to the hapless Michael Essien and an upraised arm. The elegant and lethal Sergio Aguero buried the penalty kick and, suddenly, Manchester City lit up. Wave after wave broke against an increasingly desperate Chelsea defence but when the breakthrough finally came, it was all about two men – Tevez and Samir Nasri.
It was his rapier sharp little reverse ball, played with his back to Nasri, which opened the door for the former Arsenal trickster and cut a flow of happy tweets from Old Trafford dead.
The response of Nasri and the rest of the City players to Tevez after the goal showed clearly |that he is still popular within the squad and if there are dissenters, we are unlikely to ever hear |about it.
It proved once again that managers and football supporters will abandon every ounce of dignity and principle just to see the ball rattle around in the back of the goal.
The reaction from the stands when Tevez first came on was difficult to judge given the fact that there were some Chelsea supporters present in the ground.
But it did seem as though there was an amount of booing and certainly no standing ovation for a player who Mancini swore would never darken his door again.
Above all, fans demand but rarely get loyalty from their best players and it will be difficult for them to trust Tevez again.
They know he tried to leave and they know he refused to |play but while he’s around, they’ll take whatever goals he has in him.
At this stage, he certainly owes the club a few and there is little doubt that his re-emergence could yet prove to be the decisive moment in this year’s title race.
Fit and willing, he will score goals and when you glance down the fixture list to April, it almost seems written in the stars that Tevez will go mano a mano with Alex Ferguson in what promises to be a truly epic Manchester derby – one to beat any which has gone before.
Ferguson must have chuckled a lot while he watched Tevez behave like a brat and undermine Mancini early in the campaign.
But Ferguson understands momentum better than any manager alive and he knows that Mancini and his team have just had a shot of raw adrenaline.