Greater Manchester Police will be asking players to desist from inflammatory remarks ahead of next week's Carling Cup semi-final second leg after Carlos Tevez launched an unbridled attack on Gary Neville and accused him of being a "bootlicker" and "moron."
Tevez may have revealed in his attack on Neville the actual sum City paid his representatives to get him to move across Manchester last summer. "It was blatant crawling [when] Gary said I was not worth €35m," Tevez told ESPN radio. The player's agents have always refused to confirm or deny whether the figure exceeded the £25m which United initially agreed to pay to convert his loan deal to a permanent move. A €35m sum equated to £30m on 14 July, the day he signed for City.
It was unfortunate that Tevez's attack yesterday coincided with the Football Association contacting both United and City to remind them of their duties to prevent next Wednesday's game becoming an even more incendiary situation than it already is. The police, who spoke to players before the first leg, will repeat the same request.
In an interview which might ironically land Tevez with an FA charge while Neville escapes one for his rude gesture to the Argentine, the striker's derogatory language about the United captain included the slang chupamedias ("creep" or "bootlicker") and tarado ("moron"). Tevez is infuriated by Neville's assertion before Tuesday's first leg that Sir Alex Ferguson was right to release him because his financial demands were too big. "He did it just to look good to the manager," Tevez said. "Why the hell is this moron talking about me if I never had any problem with him?"
It seems to have been Neville's comments, made in response to a reader's question to his column in The Times of Malta, rather than the defender's one-finger gesture at Tevez after he converted a first-half penalty on Tuesday, which has caused so much ill feeling. "Just when I ran to celebrate the penalty I crossed his path and I told myself, 'Don't say anything'," Tevez said. "I did not go over the top with the celebration."
Tevez contradicted comments issued through his representatives on Tuesday, in which he claimed he had cupped his ears in a gesture aimed at Ferguson. "I did not go over the top with the celebration. I insist that it was for Gary and not for Ferguson or for the people," he said. "People have to talk on the pitch. I know Ferguson loves me. That is why he is always talking about me. I don't talk much in England because of the language. I don't like getting into conflicts. I do my talking on the pitch. I am happy because I know what I am. God gave me a great revenge with City but there is still the game on Wednesday to come."
There is understood to be no prospect now of City putting forward Tevez to speak before the game at Old Trafford and City's security staff have contacted their United counterparts to make extra contingencies for the night. The FA, which confirmed yesterday that there is insufficient evidence to charge Neville with improper conduct, has cautioned both clubs that Fifa representatives and representatives of its own governance committee will be at the match to ensure good conduct.
GMP, whose overriding objective is to work with the two clubs to get fans into Old Trafford early, has reminded the small minority of supporters inclined towards violence that they face banning orders which will prevent them seeing the Carling Cup final.
The GMP assistant chief constable, Ian Hopkins, stressed that the vast majority of fans had behaved well on Tuesday but said Manchester's 2018 World Cup bid host city status was under the spotlight. "As one of the host cities the second leg is a great day for Manchester to shine and we would ask that fans play their part by behaving sensibly and doing the city proud," he said. "Yes, there is going to be banter between the fans but it's when that banter turns aggressive and violent that Manchester will suffer."
City will not be proceeding with any attempt to secure the services of the Milan and ex-Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini. There is some prospect of discussions with Real Madrid over Fernando Gago, the 23-year-old Argentine defensive midfielder, though that move is as yet in its infancy.