Will he or won't he? Today's meeting between Roberto Mancini and Carlos Tevez will reveal more about whether the Manchester City captain is staying, though his manager insisted last night that the Argentine will play against Everton on Monday evening and that he believes the issue can be resolved in the next two days.
"Why not? Yes," Mancini said, when asked if Tevez would face David Moyes's side. "When he arrived [back] on Tuesday he trained very well. I want all the players 100 per cent. On Monday we face a very difficult team."
Mancini said he had never experienced a challenge like this though he believes the issue will be resolved by the weekend – an echo of Sir Alex Ferguson declaring that the Wayne Rooney transfer saga needed dealing with 48 hours before he signed a new deal. "It is important I speak to him because I want to understand what he wants to do. I think this can finish in the next two days," Mancini said. "It's important that it can finish quickly."
Mancini's meeting with Tevez was delayed until this afternoon as City's plans to fly out of Turin at midnight last night were scuppered by a technical fault with their aircraft. Delays in repairing the aircraft meant that they were not due to fly home until 10am today.
Of course, the real talking required may be between the City chief executive Garry Cook and Tevez's more influential manager, Kia Joorabchian, the suspicion being that Joorabchian's open battle with Cook is a motivating factor in this saga.
In the circumstances, there was some irony to the fact that City's draw – securing top place in Europa League Group A and the prospect of facing one of the weaker sides eliminated from the Champions League (Rangers, Benfica, Basle or Rubin Kazan) rather than one of the stronger – came courtesy of the much-maligned Jo.
The Brazilian, still a marginal figure at City, was briefly the club's most expensive player and one whom Joorabchian was convinced would be a huge name when he brought him to City. The 23-year-old has been nothing of the sort, yet he deserves some merit for sheer sticking power. Mancini has coaxed some good performances from him this season and his 77th-minute equaliser here – the Brazilian, back to goal, swivelled onto Adam Johnson's angular pass and fired it in – was a fine one. "I have known Jo for five years," Mancini said last night. "He played against Inter in the Champions League and he scored two goals. He was young. I think he is a good player."
Jo's presence also shielded Mario Balotelli from more of the racist abuse he has received here before. There was more of it last night, even though the 20-year-old was back in Manchester.
When the club captain is absent, most City sides seem like a pale reflection. Micah Richards was thrown the captaincy for the first time, which was perhaps Mancini's way of nurturing him. Alex Nimely, the Liberian-born England Under-20 striker, showed energy and eagerness for the ball in his first start for City.
But Juventus worked their way back into it. Dedryk Boyata coped well with Alessandro del Piero, but Richards was tantalised and torn up by him on the left just before the interval, allowing him the low cross that Niccolo Giannetti poked home. City lost further ground after half-time and it took the best of Shay Given's athleticism to touch over Milos Krasic's 25-yard shot Then a moment's inspiration from Johnson and Jo turned the night back around.
"We have a chance to go all the way [in this tournament] but it is important to have a good draw for the second round [tomorrow]," Mancini said last night. Today is a day of destiny in more ways than one.
Juventus (4-4-2): Manninger; Grygera, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Traoré (Boniperti, 67); Krasic (Camilleri), Sissoko, Felipe Melo, Pepe; Gianetti (Buchel, 79), Del Piero. Substitutes not used Storari (gk), Iaquinta, Bonucci, Giandonato,
Manchester City (4-1-4-1): Given; Richards, Boateng, Boyata, Bridge; Vieira; Wright-Phillips (Chantler, 89) Milner, Nimely (Zabaleta, 62) Johnson; Jo. Substitutes not used Taylor (gk), Kay, Mee, Ibrahim, Elabdellaoui
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