Monday 22 January 2018

Mancini offers olive branch if Tevez says sorry

Ian Herbert, in Villarreal

Manchester City yesterday ventured back on to 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 flight, who is proving so obstinately difficult to leave behind.

Roberto Mancini, who in an emotional post-match press conference at the Allianz Arena four weeks back declared that Carlos Tevez was "finished" at City, said yesterday that Tevez could play again if he would only say sorry.

"Every day, all of us can make a mistake," he said. "It is important to apologise for what you do and finish. 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 been pointed out to the manager.


Mancini admitted that an apology is what he sought when he invited Tevez to a 1.0am meeting at his home on October 13, the day the forward flew in from Argentina to be told he faced a misconduct hearing.

"Yes, yes -- (but that was) 20 days ago, not yesterday," Mancini said. "I told Carlos 20 days ago to apologise."

His assertion that the Argentinian's entourage are making him so hard to reach was hardly an olive branch to the Tevez camp, saying: "I don't know his agent, but I think that probably the people who stay around him don't advise him well."

There is also concern at the highest level of the club, whose likely six-week fine of Kolo Toure is expected to be confirmed by 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 10pc of City's total game time or be entitled to terminate his contract 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 suggested the Premier League may be flattering them and Mancini admitted the 2-0 defeat had provided 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 naivety tonight. Sergio Aguero's last-gasp winner in Manchester against Villarreal -- whose four key absentees tonight include Giuseppe Rossi and Marcos Senna -- kept the European adventure very much alive, though the striker's tunnel row with the Spanish side after the 2-1 win may have stored up some trouble.

A win is a prerequisite against a side languishing 13th in La Liga. Mancini is already looking to the tie at Napoli on November 22 as the one which will 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 they 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". (© Independent News Service)

Key battles

Mario Gaspar v Mario Balotelli

The small Spaniard has been part of the defence that has leaked 24 goals this season and concedes height to in-form Manchester City striker Balotelli, who makes his first European start of the season tonight after serving a suspension.

Carlos Marchena v David Silva

Marchena will be deployed with the task of preventing his compatriot from having time on the ball.

Joselu v Vincent Kompany

Villarreal's injury problems leave Joselu to lead the line on his own and City captain Kompany will aim to keep the striker quiet.

Villarreal v Manchester City,

Live, RTE2/UTV, 7.45

Irish Independent

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