I treated Tevez too well, fumes Mancini
ROBERTO MANCINI has hit back at Carlos Tevez's claims he was "treated like a dog" by the Manchester City manager as the striker's chances of an imminent return to the first team already look in tatters.
The City manager said he had indulged Tevez "too well", contradicting the version of events in which the Argentinian suggested he was treated badly by Mancini.
The Italian has also issued a ban on any more discussions on the Tevez affair between now and the end of the season, as his anger at the latest claims boiled over ahead of tonight's Europa League fixture in Porto.
"I don't want to answer questions about Carlos because this game is more important," Mancini said. "But I totally disagree with Carlos and what he says.
"I have not treated him badly. Maybe the opposite of this. I treated him too well. Always. This is the last time I will answer any questions about him for three months."
The much-anticipated meeting between Mancini and Tevez (28) could not take place before City flew to Portugal.
A training session for the travelling squad was held as planned at Carrington yesterday morning, while Tevez, not registered by City to play in Europe, was told to turn up after the players had left, leaving him to stew in England.
There is little evidence of a thawing of tensions so far as Mancini is concerned, and the club are still considering whether to fine Tevez for his now notorious interview.
Mancini is particularly upset by Tevez's latest comments after City had opened the door for a possible return.
"The manager is a very forgiving person and he was willing to open the door again for Carlos if he said sorry," a source close to Mancini revealed. "But he was hurt by what was said in the interview -- a lot of the staff were hurt by it."
Mancini's position reflects the club's tough stance that Tevez has returned to Manchester on their terms rather than his own, and their position has been unaltered since September when the striker was told he would not play until he offered a full apology.
While the period of Mancini indulging Tevez is clearly over, the manager is still taking a more paternal approach to his other problem striker, Mario Balotelli.
After a four-game domestic ban, the 21-year-old Italian is back in the squad and expected to play in the Estadio do Dragao, but he will return with a warning from his manager.
Tonight's referee, Cuneyt Cakir, dismissed Balotelli in the last-16 Europa League tie with Dinamo Kiev a year ago. In 49 games for City, the player has received four red cards (one issued retrospectively) and 17 bookings.
"I have spoken to Mario," Mancini said. "I told him 'Please, we have 13 games to play in the Europa League so try to have good behaviour on the pitch and think to only play football.'
"Mario is an important player for us, he has a good quality. He can play with Edin Dzeko, with Sergio Aguero. I think if his head will be okay in the next two months, he will be an important player.
"It's difficult to find a good definition for him. We know that Mario is a fantastic player. He's young, sometimes he will do some mistakes, but for this reason if he can keep his composure for the next months, he will be an important player for us, in the Europa League and the Premier League."
A fit and available Balotelli will lessen the need for Mancini to turn to Tevez due to any potential striker shortage.
"It's my opinion that at this moment all the players will be important," Mancini said. "It's important for me to have all players between now and the end of the season.
"If we want to get to the final of the Europa League or win the Premier League it is important to have all players ready and available for all games. Mario is one of them. Now we'll have three strikers for Porto. I think that's a good thing for me and for this game." (© The Daily Telegraph)
Porto v Manchester City,
Live, ITV 1 & Setanta Ireland, 8.05