City players claim that they did not hear Tevez refuse to play

 

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The Independent Online

Manchester City players who witnessed the dispute with Roberto Mancini which has led the club to consider sacking Carlos Tevez were unable to hear enough in Bayern Munich's deafening stadium to support the manager's case that the player refused to enter the field of play, The Independent understands.

Manager Roberto Mancini is firmly resisting the idea of attempting to sack Tevez, as he does not want to give the player the satisfaction of earning the big move he has been agitating for. The Italian – who believes the unsettled Arsenal striker Robin van Persie could be a replacement for Tevez, though probably not until next summer – fears that the huge controversy surrounding the Argentine's dismissal could destabilise the club and derail their season. City would have to pursue Tevez through the courts for the recovery of the value of his transfer fee, a process Mancini fears could drag on to next summer.

But as Edin Dzeko last night apologised for the act of dissent which also infuriated the manager on Tuesday's extraordinary night in Munich, it was becoming increasingly evident that the club's seven-day inquisitorial investigation into events will find it difficult to prove Mancini's version – that Tevez refused to play. The Independent understands that informal discussions at training yesterday established that some key witnesses cannot definitively say they heard Tevez specifically refuse to play.

The feeling from those with experience in football disciplinary cases – and one shared by the Tevez camp – is that clear evidence of a player's refusal to enter the field of play in the heat of a 60,000-capacity Champions League tie will be extremely difficult to come by, for the club's investigative, legal and human resources teams. Among the City substitutes, only Pablo Zabaleta speaks the same language as Tevez and he was also struggling to hear Mancini on the night in question. The relationship between those two players is not, incidentally, as strong as has been widely characterised.

Given the difficulty of establishing a coherent picture of what occurred in the Allianz Arena, there is a belief within the football community that the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) would win if City did sack Tevez and the PFA decided to challenge it. The risk of being forced to rescind a sacking may be another factor in persuading City that this is simply not a course of action which is worth pursuing.

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