Friday 15 December 2017

City urge Tevez to avoid war of words ahead of derby

Mark Ogden

CARLOS TEVEZ has been urged by senior figures at Manchester City to avoid another war of words with his former club ahead of Saturday's derby against Manchester United at Eastlands.

Comments by United defender Rio Ferdinand -- who is battling to overcome a groin injury in time for the game -- casting doubt on Tevez's efforts during training while a United player could yet provoke City's 28-goal leading scorer into another verbal attack on Old Trafford.

Tevez has proven to be a divisive figure in Manchester since leaving United to complete a £25m move to City last July. The now-notorious image of the player on a city-centre billboard under the message 'Welcome to Manchester' prompted Alex Ferguson to label City a "small club with a small mentality".

The English FA and Greater Manchester Police contacted the two clubs between January's Carling Cup semi-final first and second legs to call for calm and an end to incendiary comments. It followed a high-profile row between Tevez and United captain Gary Neville, which led to Neville being described as a "moron" and a "boot-licker" by his former team-mate after he appeared to direct an obscene gesture at Tevez following one of the Argentine's two goals in City's 2-1 first-leg victory.

City have blocked all interview requests for Tevez ahead of Saturday's game and the club are to speak to the player's advisers in an effort to prevent unauthorised comments being aired.

Across the city, United are also tightly controlling player interviews, but Tevez is unlikely to be impressed by Ferdinand's latest observations.

"Carlos is an interesting character. When he was at United, he saved all his energy for the games," said Ferdinand.

"He didn't really go over the top at training. He'd do his work in the gym. He was a professional in that sense, but everything he did was geared towards the match at the weekend. You could see him conserving his energy during the week and then laying it all on the line out on the pitch. That's not the way I operate. I have to train at a high level every day."

Ferdinand's prospects of facing Tevez on Saturday are in the balance, however. The England captain aggravated a groin injury during the 0-0 draw at Blackburn. He has been dogged by injury throughout this season, missing more than three months with a back complaint before returning to action in January. Niggling back and groin problems have since kept the defender out of three league games.

Wayne Rooney is expected to return against City after missing the Blackburn game with an ankle injury.

Rooney, United's 34-goal top scorer, is likely to replace Dimitar Berbatov in the starting line-up, but the Bulgarian is understood to retain Ferguson's long-term support, despite a series of below-par performances.

Meanwhile, Karim Benzema, the French forward who rejected United to sign for Real Madrid last summer, insists he is not interested in leaving Spain, despite emerging as a leading Ferguson target again.

Benzema said: "I did not sign for Madrid to sign for another club soon after." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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