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

It is desperate because it says that the ethos of City is not primarily about shaping a team

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 who produced a pulsating start to their title defence, winning their first five games as though they were scything down so many stalks of wheat.

Chelsea had brimmed with composure and invention under the direction of 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 Mancini recalls that match in September 2010 as vividly as any of his players currently queuing up to forgive what some would say was the unforgivable and welcome Tevez back to the team he betrayed so profoundly in Munich. It is surely the only coherent explanation for yesterday's indication by Mancini that Tevez may well appear on the bench for tonight's pivotal game against Chelsea.

Mancini says that Tevez's apology has been given and accepted and team-mates like Micah Richards, Kolo Touré and Joe Hart have been falling over themselves to declare that the man who went missing in action in Bavaria and then ran all the way back to Argentina is now crucial to City's chances of fighting back off the shoulder of 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, a set of values to be reasonably embraced by any bunch of prospective champions, if it came at them lit by neon and wired for stereophonic sound?

Or if you want to put the second proposition – which is certainly the one favoured here – a little differently, did we ever have a much better definition in football of a willingness to win at any price?

Some City fans may say that given all their years of waiting, and all the evidence that player loyalty is generally as good as the last strategic conversation with his agent, they will take a little bit of help from wherever it comes.

Why not glean a little value from a player of proven scoring ability and, when his mood is right, a most formidable fighting instinct?

Who knows, yesterday's treachery may just inspire today's vital touch of redemption. The goal against Chelsea, when he repeatedly tore at the partnership of John Terry and Alex, was one of four in three appearances against tonight's opponents. Undoubtedly he is a big-game player, the man who in the last World Cup was referred to affectionately as "Carlitos the team player" by Diego Maradona.

There have certainly been less plausible arguments for desperate selections, into which of course we have to place the possibility of Tevez's return.

It is desperate because it says that the ethos of City is not primarily concerned with the shaping of a team of shared values, of implicit faith in the competitive nature and conscience of every player who wears the shirt, but getting across that finish line first, however many compromises have littered the track.

There was some reason to believe that such dickering with fate was on the point of exile after Munich.

Mancini said Tevez had carried himself beyond the pale but of course circumstances have changed. City need to win a title and recoup some of the vast monies invested in the man who defected and then sneered at the city which had been so free with its gifts and its affection.

City, we are told, would quite like to beef up Tevez's price with fresh evidence that he remains a vital asset for such teams as his recent suitors Internazionale and Milan. It is a not insignificant factor, apparently, for the club who have strived so hard to buy in the glory.

Excluded from the budget, however, is the money it might take to declare that some things have a value way beyond a timely goal and a leg-up in any title race.

By kick-off tonight such a notion may well be lost in the need for the kind of impact that became the Tevez trademark and about which Hart says: "We've got energy in the team and a lot of firepower but Carlos brings us more of that and having him back will be like a new signing."

Maybe, but the temptation is surely to believe that more than a new signing, 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.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A poster by Durham Constabulary
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine