Mancini also has plenty of other players to choose from and keep happy by giving them time on the pitch, too. If that means Tevez must sit, so be it. As boss, Mancini is perfectly entitled to pick the team he feels is best for City. And Tevez can always while away the hours on City’s bench by dreaming about what he will do with all his cash, while remembering that there are bigger hardships in life.
France’s players disgusted their nation when they went on strike at the World Cup in South Africa last year. But that was in training. This was during an actual game, which makes Tevez’s apparent rebellion worse.
It is tempting to suggest, as former Liverpool star-turned-TV commentator Graeme Souness did, that Tevez’s apparent insubordination “epitomizes what the man in the street thinks is wrong with modern footballers.” In other words, spoiled and overindulged.
But that is not wholly fair on Tevez’s peers. There are plenty of other footballers who do not throw childish fits of petulance even if they have cause to be unhappy. Professionals like Manchester United striker Michael Owen, who rarely gets in a game these days but still scored twice when Ferguson put him in against Leeds in the League Cup, and midfielder Luka Modric, who seems ready again to give his all for Tottenham despite not getting his hoped-for move this August to Chelsea.
The Wayne Rooney saga last year also showed clubs and players can make up after a particularly unpleasant episode of brinkmanship. The Manchester United striker seemed on the verge of quitting but then accepted a nice new contract. This season, he’s knocking in goals as if he and United had been friends all along.
But Tevez’s statement that “there was some confusion on the bench and I believe my position may have been misunderstood” could offer a path for compromise. The Italian and the Argentine could blame language, not themselves.
In which case he will have gotten his way, as millionaire footballers so often do.
John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at twitter.com/johnleicester