Tevez petulance exposes cracks in City project
MANCHESTER CITY 1
BOLTON WDRS 0
Roberto Mancini might just be beginning to feel like Frank Gallagher, the central character in the critically-acclaimed Mancunian drama 'Shameless' as he approaches his first anniversary as manager of Manchester City.
As the head of a dysfunctional family, Gallagher is constantly forced to deal with arguments and rowing siblings and, as a sour-faced Carlos Tevez skulked off the pitch, mouthing unpleasantries at Mancini after being substituted in the 90th minute of this victory against Bolton, the Argentine could have been auditioning for a cameo role as Gallagher's long-lost son.
Coming just 24 hours after a training-ground spat between City team-mates Mario Balotelli and Jerome Boateng, which was unhelpfully caught on camera by watching photographers, Tevez's petulant display of dissent was hardly the behaviour Mancini would expect of his captain.
But then the Italian's shoulder-shrugging, dismissive response to Tevez's reaction perhaps betrayed the reality of the situation in that Mancini knew exactly what was coming.
The pair's relationship is frosty at best, but Tevez appears to be more aggrieved by the lack of warmth than Mancini, who gives out the impression that he couldn't care less whether his leading goalscorer likes or dislikes his methods.
Tevez has repeatedly complained about Mancini; he rowed with his manager during the half-time interval of the 2-1 win against Newcastle in October and, when substituted during the 0-0 draw at home to Birmingham last month, he left the pitch in the manner of a child having been told that playtime was over. Just like Saturday.
The sight of Tevez rejecting Mancini's embrace before throwing his gloves to the floor was brushed off by Mancini who is "happy to see players unhappy at being taken off", but Bolton captain Kevin Davies insisted that the outburst highlights cracks in the City camp.
Via Twitter, Davies said: "Seeing Tevez reaction to being subbed assures me there is (sic) problems within at City, great players individually but as a team??
"I think if you are being subbed it is the manager's decision, and also you should show bit of respect to the player coming on. There seems to be problems there, they do not seem to even celebrate goals together.
"If you have a problem it's best to sort out behind closed doors rather than making an issue in front of millions."
Ironically, City are due to publish a video interview with Tevez today, filmed last week, in which he speaks glowingly of his relationship with Mancini.
In it, Tevez says: "Of course I get on well with Roberto and I back him 100pc. I was disappointed for instance that my substitution against Birmingham recently resulted in some of our fans showing displeasure towards him.
"What people didn't know was that I had played the previous three games going through the pain barrier, and the manager knew that.
"I was very close to getting a more serious injury through playing when perhaps I shouldn't have, so his concern was for my well-being.
"To criticise the manager for his decisions is unfair because we need to be patient; there is a long way to go in the season.
"Roberto and I get on. We discuss lots of things both in public and in private. We are both passionate football people and we both want the same things for Manchester City and that is success. We both want to win."
So all is well, then? Despite Tevez's words, his actions suggest something else, but while he and Mancini continue to clash, there can be no doubt that Tevez's goals are keeping City on course for the Champions League.
The former Manchester United forward took his tally to 10 for the season with his fourth-minute winner against Bolton, but his first-half booking ensures that he will be suspended for the trip to West Ham this weekend.
City will have to cope without him and, if they do, Tevez's attempts to win the power battle with Mancini will suffer a telling blow.
Another absentee at Upton Park will be full-back Aleksandar Kolarov, who was dismissed for two second-half bookings in a game that Boateng, his fellow big-money summer arrival, missed completely after being left out of the squad by Mancini.
Nothing to with his training-ground spat with Balotelli, according to Mancini, but an odd omission nonetheless for a German international who has impressed in recent weeks.
Still, City are well placed ahead of the Christmas period.
Champions League qualification is within reach, while even the title is not currently beyond them.
For City to exceed expectations, however, they must put on a united front.
No club is fortunate enough to possess a dressing-room without factions or gripes, but only City's dirty laundry is continually produced for public consumption.
That has to change and Tevez, as captain, is doing nothing for team spirit by behaving as he did on Saturday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)