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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Time for City to prove they are bigger than Tevez

Even with only half an hour remaining in a raucous Allianz Arena and his expensively-assembled team trailing by two goals, having been comprehensively outplayed by an impressive Bayern Munich side, Roberto Mancini still felt entitled to believe all was not yet lost.

After all, he still had a considerable ace up his sleeve: last season's top scorer, captain and talisman, the man who despite all his off-the-field issues and questionable temperament had dragged his team-mates out of a hole numerous times in the past, was sitting on the bench ready to try and rescue them again.

But Carlos Tevez had other ideas. Still seething at his club's refusal to allow him a 'dream' return to former club Corinthians in the summer, his pride insulted with the withdrawal of the club captaincy and relegation to mere squad status, he refused to answer his manager's call.

In a single moment, all the good work the Argentine had done since arriving at Eastlands in the summer of 2009, helping transform City from Premier League afterthoughts to Champions League qualifiers and bringing major silverware back after a 35 year absence, was undone.

He had abandoned his team in their hour of need. With a roll of the eyes and shrug of the shoulders, City's hero became their pariah.

After the match, Mancini was unequivocal in asserting that Tevez's career at the club is over. The pair have clashed many times before, but never like this.

"He has wanted to leave for the last two years," the furious Italian told reporters. "For two years I have helped him, and now he has refused to play.

"This can never happen at a top club that one player can refuse to help his team-mates in an important match like tonight.

"Do you think at Bayern Munich a player would ever behave like this? At Milan? At Manchester United? No. That is the answer. It is the same for everyone.

"If I have my way he will be out. He's finished with me."

Mancini conceded the final decision over Tevez's future is not his to make, but City's owners must back their manager when deciding how to handle the affair in the coming days.

To do any less would be to make his position almost untenable, and the Italian's departure at this crucial stage would destroy the team's promising development so far this term.

But there is also the more fundamental point that Mancini is right. A club with aspirations to join Europe's top table cannot, under any circumstances, tolerate behaviour which undermines the authority of the manager and, even more importantly, inhibits the team.

The baggage which inevitably comes with Tevez means he was only a worthwhile investment for City whilst he maintained the professionalism on the pitch for which he has always been known and respected. Last night in Munich he betrayed the only part of his character which ever did him credit.

Moreover, City are fast approaching the stage where they no longer need their troubled but talented striker. Tevez may have considered himself bigger than the Manchester City he signed for in 2009, but he is most certainly not bigger than the club with whom he last night burned his bridges.

City now possess the infrastructure and playing talent to establish themselves for years to come as one of the dominant forces in the Premier League and, despite their hitherto inauspicious debut, the Champions League too. They possess these things with or without Tevez.

In fact, the Argentine has now revealed himself to be the biggest obstacle to City achieving their long-term goals. His unprofessionalism and selfish attitude have created a poisonous atmosphere around Eastlands which could seriously undermine the team's efforts if he is allowed to remain.

Therefore, the time is right for City to discard him. If he truly did refuse to play on Tuesday then he is in breach of contract, in which case the club should be able to dismiss him without paying compensation and, should they choose, even battle him in the courts for damages.

The main argument against releasing Tevez from his contract is that making him a free agent would simply mean giving him what he's wanted all along - an easy route out of Manchester.

But City's concern at this juncture should not be the petty desire to take their revenge on a player who has caused them a great humiliation, intentional or not, on the very biggest of stages.

For what would it achieve to make Tevez rot in the reserves until January or longer?

It would ensure only that the issue rumbles on, distracting the club from the more important business of winning matches and unfairly deflecting attention from their achievements.

The biggest clubs do not allow individual players either to hold them to ransom or become an embarassing sideshow. Tevez is guilty on both counts.

If City wish to be considered among Europe's finest, they will dump him and move on to bigger and better things.