James Lawton: 'Win at any price' sums up the recall of Tevez

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The Independent Online

You don't need an elephant's memory to remember what happened the last time Carlos Tevez appeared against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City beat the reigning champions.

Chelsea had brimmed with composure and invention under Carlo Ancelotti but soon enough they were on the back foot, put there by a ferocious performance by City and a typically swaggering strike from Tevez.

Maybe City manager Roberto Mancini recalls that match in September 2010. It is surely the only coherent explanation for yesterday's indication that Tevez may well appear on the bench for tonight's game against Chelsea.

Mancini says Tevez's apology has been accepted and Micah Richards, Kolo Touré and Joe Hart have declared that the man who went missing in Bavaria and ran all the way back to Argentina is now crucial to City's chances of overhauling odds-on title favourites Manchester United.

What do you do? Praise the City manager and his players for pure hard-nosed pragmatism? Or say they wouldn't know a working principle if it came at them lit by neon?

Did we ever have a much better definition in football of a willingness to win at any price? Some City fans may say they will take a little bit of help from wherever it comes.

Who knows, yesterday's treachery may just inspire today's vital touch of redemption. Tevez's goal against Chelsea was one of four in three appearances against tonight's opponents. He is a big-game player.

There have certainly been less plausible arguments for desperate selections. Tevez's return is desperate because it says that City are not primarily concerned with shared values, but getting across that finish line first, however many compromises litter the track.

After Munich, Mancini said Tevez had carried himself beyond the pale but City need to win a title and recoup some of the vast monies invested in the man who defected. City would quite like to beef up Tevez's price with fresh evidence that he remains a vital asset for recent suitors Internazionale and Milan. City also need the kind of impact of which Hart says: "We've got energy in the team and a lot of firepower but Carlos brings us more of that. Having him back will be like a new signing."

Maybe, but the temptation is surely to believe that City are in need of some old certainties about who they are and what they stand for. In men like Sergio Aguero, Yaya Touré and David Silva there were powerful suggestions that such underpinning might be coming. Instead we have the return of Tevez – and from where?

It is a place which you have to say would be most any club's ground zero.