Lee Dixon: Managers used to have the power, now it's players like Tevez who call the shots

The Weekend Dossier

Handing your club a written request for a transfer seems a bit old fashioned in these days of Twitter and iPhones. But I wish Carlos Tevez would also write out his reasons for putting in a transfer request at Manchester City this week, because for the life of me I can't fathom what has gone wrong.

He says it's not about money, but then talks about a breakdown in relations with the club's administrators, and he would only talk to them about non-footballing matters, such as his contract. The Argentine says he is homesick but then his advisers talk about a move to Spain as being his preferred option.

Whatever the reason, it all adds up to a massive headache for manager Roberto Mancini. It was much easier for managers when I was a player. When I joined Arsenal, George Graham ruled us all with a rod of iron and would not stand for anyone stepping out of line.

The events at City this week reminded me of when George fell out with Michael Thomas who refused to sign a new contract two years after he had scored the title-winning goal at Liverpool in 1989.

In those days George certainly made you earn your money. I could have made the same salary staying at Stoke as I did moving to Arsenal, while in London house prices were two and a half times what they were in the Potteries .

But that's how George did business. He would say: "Next year, if you win something, come back and we'll sign a new contract." And he was true to his word. He would give you a pay rise, say £100 a week, but add an extra year to your contract. So most of us were on three-year contracts and the power was all with the club.

Michael decided not to do that and wanted to run his contract down instead. He thought he would be better off in the long run. But George told him to sign or he was out and there was stalemate. George reacted by forcing Michael to train on his own.

You would have the first team training on one pitch and then on another there was Michael on his own, dribbling the ball around. It was amazing. Now we have the complete opposite situation, as the players are the ones with all the power. The clubs can fine them two weeks' wages but they don't notice. Clubs now have to cajole players and try to make sure they are happy.

There is not much Mancini can do in this situation other than try to talk Tevez into playing on Monday against Everton. Tevez seems to be saying the problems are not footballing ones, which means realistically they are out of Mancini's control. But the immediate concern is winning games and keeping pace at the top of the table.

The situation should not, in my experience, affect the rest of the squad too much. Players are selfish creatures who look after No 1. If I know anything about dressing rooms, they will be ripping into him because that's the way footballers deal with things, with banter and taking the mickey.

Tevez has been City's best player, his energy and enthusiasm have been top drawer. However there were always likely to be problems in that City dressing room with so many egos and top players from all sorts of different places.

Although Mancini is partly responsible for that, in signing difficult players like Mario Balotelli, he has basically been handed this problem with Tevez, and for that reason I feel some sympathy for him.

He can't deal with the problem the way George Graham would have done it 20 years ago. And no one is giving him the credit for getting City to play the way they are doing, and getting the results that have put them right in the title race.

I would hope Tevez knuckles down and gets on with it. But I fear he has made up his mind, and there are things going on which we don't know about, which make it unlikely he will stay at the club. It demonstrates how hard it can be for modern managers. These days, the players have all the power. It's George's worst nightmare.

Five Asides

1. Arsenal must press Barça to stand a chance

Arsenal have the toughest Champions League draw against Barcelona but they have a chance of causing an upset if they can change their mentality when they don't have the ball. You have to learn to enjoy it when you don't have possession; the team has to get organised, and then go hunting to win it back. And they have to do it the moment they lose possession. At the moment there is a delay, and that can be fatal against Barcelona, who are capable of mesmerising stuff. I'm looking forward to it.

2. Sacking of Allardyce really beggars belief

The game's gone mad when Sam Allardyce is sacked by Blackburn for not playing pretty enough football. It's amazing. However, they have done another club a favour – there will be plenty of interest in Big Sam, particularly from teams near the bottom of the table.

3. Gunners have become harder – not dirtier

Tony Pulis says Arsenal are dirtier than his Stoke side, and the stats appear to show he is right, as they have more red cards and more bookings than today's visitors. I don't think it is a case about being dirtier, though. Arsenal used to have a soft underbelly to challenges. That's not the case any more.

4. World Club Cup is a meaningless contest

The final of the World Club Cup is played today in Abu Dhabi between Internazionale and a side called TP Mazembe from Congo. The words pointless and meaningless spring to mind.

5. Blatter has amazing ability to put foot in it

Sepp Blatter's comments about homosexuals in Qatar shows the man is a total buffoon. I can't think of a more stupid thing for him to say.

Dixon's verdict on all the weekend action

Sunderland vs Bolton Wanderers

Dixon's verdict: These two sides have been the surprise packages of the season and this could be a great match. Sunderland are strong at home but Bolton have lost one in five away. I'm going for a high-scoring draw.

Kick-off: Today, 12.45pm (Sky Sports 2; Highlights BBC 1, 10.25pm)

Prediction: A 2-2 draw

Arsenal vs Stoke City

Dixon's verdict: Arsenal were impressive without having much to show for it at Old Trafford on Monday and this match is the perfect chance to make amends, especially with Chelsea and United meeting each other.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.25pm)

Prediction: Home win

Birmingham City vs Newcastle United

Dixon's verdict: The victory over Chelsea aside, Birmingham's form has tailed off a little in recent weeks, with just one win in eight games. Newcastle looked back to full strength against Liverpool and could take a point.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.25pm)

Prediction: Draw

Blackburn Rovers vs West Ham United

Dixon's verdict: The farcical decision to get rid of Sam Allardyce could come back to cost Blackburn, who were doing fine this season on the whole. They're fortunate it's only a struggling Hammers side visiting today.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.25pm)

Prediction: Home win

Wigan Athletic vs Aston Villa

Dixon's verdict: Wigan have a key players suspended in Maynor Figueroa and Hendry Thomas which, despite Aston Villa's fluctuating form under Gérard Houllier, could prove too much for the Latics to get anything.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.25pm)

Prediction: Away win

Liverpool vs Fulham

Dixon's verdict: Liverpool's form has improved at home, while Fulham have a horrendous record on the road, so it's only one result for me here – especially with captain Steven Gerrard set to return to the side.

Kick-off: Today, 5.30pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.25pm)

Prediction: Home win

West Bromwich Albion vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Dixon's verdict: West Brom deserved something from Aston Villa last week and had good wins over Everton and Newcastle before that. They will have more than enough to beat a Wolves side yet to win away from Molineux.

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 12pm (Highlights BBC 2, 10pm)

Prediction: Home win

Blackpool vs Tottenham Hotspur

Dixon's verdict: Ian Holloway's side had a fine win at Stoke but reserve their best displays for away from home. The return to fitness of Michael Dawson and Rafael van der Vaart should swing this one Spurs' way.

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 1.30pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights BBC 2, 10pm)

Prediction: Away win

Chelsea vs Manchester United

Dixon's verdict: United's victory over Arsenal was a touch laboured and they may struggle here. Chelsea showed signs of getting back to their best at Spurs and Frank Lampard's return gives them added impetus.

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 4pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights BBC 2, 10pm)

Prediction: Home win

Manchester City vs Everton

Dixon's verdict: The reception given to Carlos Tevez – should Roberto Mancini pick him – will be interesting. Whether he plays or not, City will have too much for an Everton struggling at the wrong end of the table.

Kick-off: Monday, 8pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights Tues, SS1 12.30am)

Prediction: Home win

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