Next move to Mancini
Tevez apology clears path for City return – but only if Italian wants him back
Man City v Porto, UTV, Setanta Irl (K.O 5.0)
CARLOS Tevez last night sought to salvage his Manchester City career, by issuing an apology for his conduct in the last five, turbulent months.
The Argentine has thus made himself available again for first-team football, having made the gesture which City's manager, Roberto Mancini, had repeatedly said was the only necessary action to facilitate his return.
Tevez has also withdrawn his appeal to the Premier League over £1.18m in fines exacted by City for his unauthorised, three-month stay in Argentina, from where he returned eight days ago.
Tevez has not met Mancini since his return to Manchester, which was preceded by a television interview in which he accused the club of treating him “like a dog”. It remains to be seen whether last night's 39-word apology – which included no direct reference to the Italian – will repair the relationship.
There are no guarantees. However, the apology – which was made after a meeting at Carrington yesterday afternoon between Tevez and City's football administrator, Brian Marwood – was issued with Mancini's blessing and, as the manager was kept informed of progress yesterday, he is understood to be happy with the outcome.
Mancini is a pragmatist and he will not consider a U-turn on his vow that a return for Tevez is “impossible” to represent a loss of face. The apology was issued with the sanction and blessing of the club's Abu Dhabi owners.
In the interests of making progress, neither side was willing to discuss the talks, which means it is still unclear whether Tevez was keen to issue the apology or if he was persuaded that it was in his interests to make it.
There was some contrition in last week's interview with an Argentine television channel, though the crucial words – “If I was wrong, I say sorry. I sincerely believe I did not make a mistake” – were subsequently drowned out.
There was a feeling, before Tevez's statement was issued at 9.30pm, that time was running out for him to demonstrate that he meant business after returning to City.
The statement read: “I wish to apologise sincerely and unreservedly to everybody I have let down and to whom my actions over the last few months have caused offence. My wish is to concentrate on playing football for Manchester City Football Club.”
Tevez's fitness has surprised some at City, as assessments have shown him to be in better shape than when he took unauthorised leave. He may be only two weeks away from being able to play; City face Chelsea at home on Monday 19 March.
Though the Argentine's 3.30pm arrival for two hours' fitness training yesterday again failed to coincide with the hours that Mancini keeps at the club's Carrington base, the lack of a meeting owed more to the two men's working hours than bad feeling. A meeting was of no use until Tevez had apologised.
Mancini's willingness to engage will be greater now.
The statement was issued through the club rather than the player, because City also wanted to issue on their website the news of Tevez withdrawing his appeal to the Premier League.
It remains to be seen how City fans will respond, though there does not appear to be a groundswell of distaste. Neither has Tevez received a negative response from team-mates.