MANCHESTER - Manchester City
striker Carlos Tevez denied on Wednesday he had refused to come
on as a substitute in their Champions League match against
Bayern Munich and said he is ready to play on for the club.
Manager Roberto Mancini told reporters that the Argentine
had ignored his instruction to warm up early in the second half
of Tuesday's 2-0 defeat in Germany and that Tevez was "finished"
while he was manager.
Tevez, who has found controversy follow him from club to
club, sought to placate City fans whom he has already angered
over the past year with his open desire to leave the club.
"There was some confusion on the bench and I believe my
position may have been misunderstood," he said in a statement,
according to local media.
"I would like to apologise to all Manchester City fans, with
whom I have always had a strong relationship, for any
misunderstanding that occurred in Munich.
"They understand that when I am on the pitch I have always
given my best for the club. In Munich on Tuesday, I had warmed
up and was ready to play.
"This is not the right time to get into specific details as
to why this did not happen. But I wish to state that I never
refused to play. Going forward, I am ready to play when required
and to fulfil my obligations."
If Mancini sticks to his guns, Tevez's words will fall on
deaf ears at a club whose patience he has tested several times.
Last December he put in a transfer request that the club
turned down, while he lodged another at the end of the season
citing family reasons.
He made scathing comments about Manchester on an Argentine
chat show in June, saying the city "has nothing" and is "very
expensive" and that he was "never going back to Manchester, not
even on holiday."
'DISGRACE TO FOOTBALL'
He nevertheless returned after a planned move to Brazilian
club Corinthians fell through but was stripped of the club
captaincy and found himself relegated to the bench as compatriot
Sergio Aguero was paired with Edin Dzeko up front.
It is a major fall from grace for the player who won City
fans hearts with his work rate and goals after a controversial
move across the city from Manchester United in 2009.
His arrival in the blue side of the northwest English city
created a storm when City posted a giant 'Welcome to Manchester'
billboard following his defection.
It was a sign of things to come and also the latest in a
chain of headline-grabbing issues that Tevez has been at the
centre of during his time in England.
His first English club West Ham United were fined for
breaking rules on third-party agreements regarding player
transfers when signing him from Corinthians in 2006.
There followed a protracted legal battle with Sheffield
United, who sued West Ham for the cost of relegation saying the
Londoners should have faced the drop instead because they should
have been given a points deduction as well as the fine.
After two years, the clubs settled out of court. In the
meantime, Tevez joined Manchester United in another
controversial deal involving more player ownership issues.
He then upset United fans by moving down the road to City.
That transfer provided Tevez with a platform he never had at
United to be the team's main goalscorer and it looked like the
flow of controversy around him might have been stemmed.
He became popular with City fans and even last season
finished joint top scorer in the Premier League despite his wish
to leave the club.
What happens next remains to be seen as Mancini said he
would be talking to the club's owner Sheikh Mansour, who is
likely to be unimpressed by the widespread criticism from the
footballing world and British media of the player.
"He is a disgrace to football," former Liverpool manager
Graeme Souness, now a television pundit, said. "The owners need
to get him as far away as possible because that type of
behaviour can spread."
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