Tevez's legs were still willing – but his heart clearly lies elsewhere

As City waved goodbye to a trophyless era, their captain was refusing to commit his future

Wembley

For a moment – and it was only a moment – Carlos Tevez beamed a big, toothy grin and the phoney war between him and his club dissolved away. The translator in the Wembley tunnel had just put to him the question of the Stretford End ticker, which proclaims City's 35 years without a trophy, when his eyes widened, the chewing gum was temporarily lodged in a corner of his mouth and you could see from the look on his face what words of Spanish were coming out. "We remember that flag very well and now we can take it down," he said.

It is like a slowly dying love affair, this Tevez business. There is the occasional moment of hope to seize upon – his cameo role in the wonderfully daft Christmas video of City players making their own cards was another – but in his mind it is over, perhaps in his heart, too, though that bit is hard to tell because he does not appear to be the one making his decisions. Instinct tells you to drill at the holes in the logic of his argument but the fact he still does not have a word of English, five years after arriving, speaks loudest that he is still just someone passing through, prepared to let others make the decisions and ship him on.

"I have to make sure everything is OK for my family, I'll have to speak to them [before deciding on my future]" he said. So, why leave for Italy or Spain rather than Argentina, where his daughters reside? "You are already talking as if I have left the club," he replied. "I don't know if I am going to leave or not, if I'm going to Spain or Italy or somewhere else." Maddening.

You see why City want to keep him. New strikers come with so few guarantees for Premier League success. Look at Edin Dzeko, the player City compiled a big fat dossier on, had watched endlessly in action and on training pitches in Germany and felt was more likely to acclimatise to Manchester than David Silva – but whose pace and touch seem so lacking.

But set against that what we also saw again on Saturday – the unedifying spectacle of two parties to an estranged relationship giving their sides. "I spoke to Carlos, he said 'why you say I want to leave?' I said, 'I didn't say this, never', " Mancini insisted. It certainly ran against the grain of the day .

This has been going on for a year now – remember, it was on 6 May last year that Mancini said "if a top player is not happy to stay here then it's better to go to another team. This is not just the case for Tevez but for all players" – and the longer it continues, the more it feeds the prejudice of those who like to say that Eastlands is a safe harbour for football's mercenaries. Wembley on Saturday was actually an opportunity for City to debunk the myth peddled sourly by those who say that the club's growth is empty and meaningless because it is jet-propelled by petrodollars (as if United, who paid the same price for Wayne Rooney that City did for Tevez, or any other foreign-owned club are any different). And City did debunk the myth, in many ways.

Their desire to roll up their rich past and take it with them on the journey was epitomised by the sight of Bernard Halford – or "Mr Halford" as those members of City's staff who have known good times and bad still call the long-standing club secretary – clambering up to place his hands on the trophy. (There's a wonderful scene in the City film Blue Moon Rising in which Halford shows us inside what laughably passes for a trophy room.)

The past is a big part of the new City, whose owners also like to think that the identity of the club can only include such a thing as a player with City characteristics – loyal, no-hassle winners.

Impeccable conduct is not necessarily a part of it. The raw emotion of Micah Richards, who has lived through City's good times and bad, saying "look at the fans, they've been there since fucking day one" contributed wonderfully to the sense that this is a club with soul and Mario Balotelli's admission that "my season was shit – can I say that?" is actually how he feels about things.

City players were all over the pitch, expressing what this win felt in myriad ways. And where was the captain? A few words of English would have equipped him so well for this seminal moment, but he was invisible. The legs were willing but the heart lies somewhere else.

* Viewing figures for Saturday's final peaked at 8.3m on ITV1, averaging 6.9m, the best for three years.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices