CARLOS Tevez has launched a fresh attack on Gary Neville, accusing his former team-mate of being a "boot-licking moron" and an "idiot".
Tevez had accused Neville of being "disrespectful" in the wake of City's 2-1 victory over Manchester United in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final on Tuesday after the England defender had publicly criticised the forward.
But Tevez stepped up his offensive last night and insisted that the provocative celebration after the first of his two goals -- a penalty -- against United was directed solely at Neville, who had appeared to respond to the Argentinian's gesture by flashing his middle finger.
Neville had antagonised Tevez on the eve of the game by implying that the player was not worth the £25.5m it would have cost United to sign him permanently last summer. Tevez, in turn, joined City in a £47m deal.
Speaking in a radio interview on ESPN Argentina, Tevez said: "My celebration was directed at Gary Neville. He acted like a complete sock-sucker (boot-licker) when he said I wasn't worth £25m just to suck up to the United manager.
"I don't know what the hell that idiot is talking about me for. I never said anything about him. I will never show a lack of respect towards anyone.
"Just as I was running off to celebrate the penalty I had scored, I came across Gary and I said to myself, 'Shut your trap, keep quiet.' I didn't go overboard in my celebration and it was directed at Gary, not Ferguson, and not at the (United) fans."
After scoring, Tevez confronted Neville as he was warming up on the touchline and used his hand in a manner as to suggest that his former team-mate had been talking too much.
The verbal assault will serve only to heighten tensions between the clubs before a potentially explosive second leg at Old Trafford on Wednesday, with the FA to review further footage from the confrontation today before deciding whether to charge Neville.
"I think he (Neville) did the wrong thing because I was his team-mate and I never said anything bad about him," Tevez said. "He was saying that Ferguson was right when he said that I wasn't worth £25m . . . I always respected Neville.
"I was at lunch with the City players in the team hotel and all the papers were laid out. I read them -- well, obviously I don't read English, my team-mates were telling me about it and asking what I thought.
"And I wondered to myself, 'What's the tarado (moron) talking about me for when I never said anything about him, when there was never any issue with us. It was a lack of respect for a companero, aside from the fact that we had won a lot of things together."
Tevez said that he was pleased to exact "revenge" on United and is hopeful City will reach their first final of a leading cup competition for 29 years. "You have to do your talking on the pitch," he said. "I don't like to get involved in conflict. I'm happy because I know what I am.
"Thank God I had the chance to get revenge with City, although there is still the second leg to come. I know that Ferguson loves me, that's why he always talks about me."
Ferguson, who is likely to be without John O'Shea for the rest of the season after the defender suffered a blood clot in his thigh, has criticised too many players for celebrating goals by "knocking players out of the road for self-adulation" and explained the importance of ruling with an iron fist.
"Control is very, very important because if I lost control of all these multimillionaires in my dressing room, I'm dead," he said. "So if anyone steps out of my control, they're dead."