'Mancini and I almost came to blows' -- Carlos Tevez
Carlos Tevez placed the prospects of a reconciliation with Roberto Mancini in jeopardy last night, declaring ahead of his return today that the Manchester City manager had treated him "like a dog" during their pitchside dispute in Munich and questioning Mancini's honesty in holding out the prospect of a first-team return.
In a wide-ranging interview on South American television, in which he hailed Alex Ferguson as one of the two greatest managers alongside former Argentina manager Marcelo Bielsa, Tevez revealed the bitterness he feels over the misconduct charge and fine of two weeks' wages over his conduct during City's Champions League defeat in Munich.
The former captain does temper his comments with a declaration that he wants to renew his career at the Etihad Stadium. But in his first explanation of his conduct in Munich, he portrays Mancini as a manager in the throes of a steaming row with a recalcitrant Edin Dzeko when he lashed out verbally at Tevez as well.
Dzeko and Mancini began arguing after the Bosnian was unhappy to be substituted. "Mancini swore at him in Italian, it was a real mess," said Tevez, who had been told to warm up. "So I go and sit down and he doesn't see me because he is having this discussion. But then he turns around and sees me and you can imagine what happens.
"He's in the middle of an argument -- so he tells me to keep warming up and treats me like a dog. So when he spoke to me in that tone of voice I said 'no, I'm not going out'. I was willing to play but the coach was in such a foul mood because he had that argument with Dzeko he started on me as well."
Tevez, who gives the distinct impression he does not want to be returning to Manchester, reveals anger at the fans' response to his decision to disappear to Argentina.
"I gave everything to that club and when I saw them burning my shirt... and hurling insults at me it really hurt," he said. "What I love, above all, is to play football."
He also said City had not repaid his loyalty -- citing his desperate efforts to get himself fit for last season's FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United, when injury had put his role in jeopardy.
"I was in training for a month on my own with a physiotherapist in Milan, trying to recuperate. I don't know if you remember that. So in 20 days I got over this injury and got to the final and I played very well. And all these things I did for the club and (yet still) end up leaving through the back door."
Tevez said statements issued by City over the Munich incident have "protected the manager" and described how the two had almost come to blows in the dressing-room after last season's home game with Newcastle United. "We almost hit each other in the dressing-room," the 28-year-old said. "Mancini is a winner and I'm a winner too. Neither of us like to lose."
But his litany of dislikes for the English game, detailed in the interview, include having "to train on December 24, sometimes play on December 25. It's tough. I don't like that." He also expressed his regret that the depths of English winter will prevent him continuing playing golf, as he has been in Argentina. "In England it's the middle of winter now so I won't be able to play much. I love it."
Mancini's staff feel Tevez is three weeks from match fitness and he has been retained in the club's league squad -- though dropped from the Europa League squad. How City fans will take to Tevez's declarations of respect for United remains to be seen.
"I know (Alex) Ferguson really doesn't want to lose this title race," Tevez said.
"I know Ferguson didn't have the best relationship with me but together with Bielsa -- those two are the best managers that I had. Paul Scholes is the best professional. Him, (Wayne) Rooney and (Ryan) Giggs -- I have no words."
He concluded: "My first goal now is to be back at full fitness. I have trained on my own but lost contact with the ball. I have got to get that back. It's tough to talk about City's title challenge now. I feel like I'm out the squad. I wish I can go back there and help them win." (© Independent News Service)