Lonely Tevez proves there are some things money can't buy

The slow pace of life in rural Cheshire is a far cry from home, fuelling the Argentine's sense of unhappiness, writes Ian Herbert
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The Independent Online

The supreme irony of a weekend in which the sagas involving Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli have combined to reinforce the image of Manchester City as a club dislocated by strife and indiscipline, is that the club's overwhelming aim is to create a culture where all players – from academy upwards – live and work as positive human beings.

The club feel they are tackling human resources in a way that some of their more unreconstructed rivals have not. The Platt Lane academy is festooned with posters reinforcing good attitude and living. But when all the claims and counter-claims about Tevez are put to one side, it was hard to escape the simple conclusion yesterday that, when you hire a disparate band of players to secure success in a rush, positive attitudes are in short supply.

The signals Tevez has sent out in the past few weeks have been wildly contradictory, contributing to a sense of bafflement around Eastlands on Tuesday night when Tevez's transfer demand dropped. This was the same Tevez who, when asked by one of the club's website journalists three weeks back whether he would undertake an interview for the club's website and magazine, offered an enthusiastic reply. Not only was Chris Bailey, the respected former Manchester Evening News correspondent, accepted, but invited to Tevez's home for the interview, which took place on 19 November.

Yet, the same Tevez was said to have been distressed when City broadcast the first part of the conversation last Monday, 24 hours before the written version appeared in City's magazine, but 48 hours after his fit of pique against the manager who substituted him against Bolton.

This was the either the mood swing of somebody who is depressed, the petulance of somebody who knows he can behave as he pleases – or both.

Don't dismiss the sense that Tevez might be suffering mild depression. He is not, contrary to one recent report, undergoing psychiatric help, but all the wealth in the world doesn't stop a player feeling profoundly lonely all day.

Tevez has expressed pain at his separation from his daughters so often that it has to be true and all that splendid isolation of the country home in Cheshire doesn't help. One of his team-mates was recently persuaded to settle in Manchester city centre rather than rural Cheshire because his family feared he would go slowly insane with all those free hours in the country.

It is a problem Chelsea do not face. Manchester, wonderful city though it is, just doesn't offer enough distractions in the way London does, for those new arrivals from the capital cities of foreign lands.

Petulance is a part of the Tevez pattern, too. His transfer saga mirrors Wayne Rooney's, both being individuals whose clubs have become over-reliant on them and so can behave as they please. The difference is that some part of Rooney has an emotional attachment to Old Trafford. No part of Tevez has that attachment to Eastlands, which is why he will be gone by the summer.

Roberto Mancini is sanguine. In Italy on Saturday night, he responded calmly when texted news of the storm that was breaking here and he could afford that nonchalance, considering that his team had just gone joint-top of the Premier League table. His problem is that Tevez is desperately needed to keep the side there. With Balotelli's display at West Ham suggesting that he will need even more nurturing, you see why City were so keen to offer Tevez that lucrative one-off payment at the start of the season.

Several million pounds and the club captaincy should have been enough, most would imagine, to retain Tevez and tide the club over for one more season until the dependency culture ended.

It wasn't enough – and if that means Tevez is lost to City this January, then they will have to rely on others far sooner than they hoped. This might help the human resources ethic but it won't help the prospects of a top-four finish. Imposing a positive culture is fine for a club who can wait a few years for success but not for one that needs it instantaneously.

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