Why Manchester City Captain Carlos Tevez Is Roberto Mancini's Best Player - And His Biggest Problem
Argentine unhappy at Eastlands despite enjoying best form of his career
Carlos Tevez will lead his Manchester City team-mates out against Manchester United on Wednesday night to what will inevitably be a raucous welcome at the home of the “noisy neighbours”.
His will be the name most lustily cheered when the line-ups are read before kick-off and in the Argentine will the greatest hope be invested that United can be silenced at the ground where Paul Scholes pick-pocketed a last-minute equaliser in the final instalment of four explosive encounters last season.
Tevez is a bona fide sky blue hero and a trusted talisman for a team whose sum does not yet come close to matching its astronomically expensive parts.
Whatever else happens at Eastlands it can be guaranteed that Tevez will chase, harry and scrap for all he is worth and generally get in the faces of the team he represented for two seasons. He might even snatch a goal or two.
Yet the Argentine is a walking and, as far as English audiences are concerned, non-talking, contradiction.
The handsomely rewarded standard-bearer of the new Manchester City has, at various times this season, been at loggerheads with his manager, depressed, homesick and so tired of kicking a football that he has been minded to pack it all in for a quieter life.
Simultaneously, he is the first name on a team-sheet bristling with blue-chip names and is benefitting from the most prolific form of his career. Tevez has followed up his 29-goal debut campaign in the blue half of Manchester by scoring a further seven goals this season. One could be forgiven for thinking, what’s not to like?
Yet former West Ham assistant coach Keith Peacock, who worked with Tevez during his season at Upton Park that began so inconspicuously before ending in such memorable fashion, says it is unfair to castigate footballers for suffering the same problems that can afflict anyone.
“It is sometimes easy for people from afar to be confused that famous people – film stars, sportsmen – who have everything at their feet being depressed,” observed Peacock. “I don’t think depression stays away from people just because they are at a certain level. They are not immune to it. The thing about Carlos is he comes from another continent and that is the main issue.”
Planet football is a global village but even multi-millionaire footballers who can hop on a private jet with a swish of their credit card are not immune to the loneliness of being thousands of miles from their loved ones.
Tevez, who is separated from wife Vanessa, is struggling to cope because his two daughters Florencia, five, and eight-month-old Katie are in Argentina and his girlfriend Brenda Asnicar is an Argentine actress whose career does not dovetail with life in Cheshire’s footballers’ belt.
After five Christmases away from his home comforts, Tevez has complained to an Argentine journalist that he is tired, stressed and over-worked.
An uneasy relationship with his manager has not helped. “Tevez might be Mancini’s most trusted lieutenant once the white line is crossed but, off the pitch, he requires kid glove treatment,” explained a City source. “He is a good professional, he’s not a drinker or party animal, but he prefers to prepare his own way.
“Mancini demands a lot of his players and feels he could get more out of Tevez - another five or 10 per cent out - if he trained harder. Tevez would rather save himself for match day. They completely disagree and the tension is there for all to see.”
Tevez, who spoke to team-mates about leaving Eastlands over the summer, is unconvinced that Mancini is the best man to be spending Abu Dhabi’s millions. Their disagreements have centred over the intensity and frequency of Mancini’s training sessions and the Italian’s tactics, which the player views as unnecessarily cautious.
“The half-time argument during the Newcastle match was the one that got reported but there have been lots of disagreements,” added the source. “Mancini gave him the captaincy to try and smooth things over but it doesn’t seem to have worked.”
Nevertheless, there has been so give from the management side. The disciplinarian boss cut his skipper enough slack to allow him to return to Argentina last week to see his family and recover from a thigh injury.
So, is Tevez a stroppy, high-maintenance nuisance who requires his managers to treat him as a special case or is he still the boy from the Buenos Aires slum of Fuerte Apache who used his love of football as a crutch to escape the poverty of his upbringing?
Peacock, who worked with Tevez under the Alan Pardew and Alan Curbishley regimes, said the striker was not a moment’s bother at West Ham but there were obvious cultural issues.
“He did not speak the language,” said Peacock. “That was a difficulty for the management in terms of getting into the player. In training, there were never any problems that I can remember at all. There were certainly never any altercations.
“A Spanish interpreter was brought in during the early days to help him and [Javier] Mascherano settle in. They lived together in Canary Wharf to begin with before they got their own places.
“From the first moment I saw him his attitude was always very good. He was a tenacious but superbly talented little bull. He was such a vibrant player who never gives up and I am not surprised at all at the level he has reached. I would put him in the top four or five strikers in the world.”
Yet there is a feeling that Tevez’s career is simply a series of lucrative stop-offs at high-end clubs before he returns to his homeland. He rents an eco-mansion in Alderley Edge for £20,000-a-week and there is little sense of permanence to his nomadic existence.
The club’s Abu Dhabi owners want to make him the face of the club and reward him with an even more lavish contract but Mancini is believed to be more sanguine about the possibility of him moving on at the end of the season, possibly to Spain and Real Madrid, where Jose Mourinho is a huge admirer.
The influence of Tevez's agent Kia Joorabchian cannot be underestimated, either. Another vast pay-day would seem attractive to the pair.
Whatever the ending to the Argentine's sky blue story, the player's on-field enthusiasm will be reciprocated by his supporters on derby day.
Article taken from: http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/85/engla ... o-mancinis