AWOL Tevez says Mancini ignored calls

City striker maintains he tried to contact manager 10 times before heading home to Buenos Aires

Carlos Tevez has insisted that he attempted to contact his Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini around 10 times to ask for his permission to return to Argentina but received no communication from the Italian before taking the flight which means he is facing another two-week fine.

The Argentine maintains that he and his representatives asked two members of City's staff – acting chief executive John MacBeath and first-team coach Fausto Salsano – for permission to return home during the international break.

Salsano was ambiguous and said it was the manager's call, Tevez insists, while MacBeath, who was approached over the weekend, referred the player's representatives to Mancini, who then failed to respond to around five voicemails and the same number of text messages. Tevez insists he also tried to contact Mancini when his flight landed in Argentina on Tuesday.

"He has gone to see his family," said his spokesman, Paul McCarthy, though it is believed Tevez will also meet with Jorge Amor Ameal – president of his former club Boca Juniors. "We've said all along that Carlos is aware of the situation in terms of getting back to his fitness. I can't really say much more until he's back in the country."

Inevitably, the striker's story of why he decided to take the flight differs radically from City's version of events. Mancini has told the club that he received only one missed call from Tevez on Monday night. And while Tevez feels he has been treated differently to other players who have been granted a holiday during the international break, City say that the training regime is the same for the three players he has been training with – Nedum Onuoha, Wayne Bridge and Owen Hargreaves.

There had also been clear verbal instructions issues on Monday to all four players, stipulating that they would be granted Tuesday off but must return for duties on Wednesday morning. Onuoha, Bridge and Hargreaves were all present at the appointed time of 10.30am yesterday.

In what threatens to be a repeat of the evidential dispute which saw Tevez fined two weeks' wages for failing to warm up at Bayern Munich, City also say that MacBeath categorically rejected Tevez's request to return to Argentina, rather than refer it to the manager. There could be no ambiguity, they say.

It remained unclear last night precisely when Tevez might return, though there is little doubt that he should not have flown out of Britain until he had his manager's approval.

Tevez seems certain to be hit with another two-week fine – nearly £400,000 – though City will not act until they have heard his version of events first hand and the Premier League leaders have not yet ruled out more draconian penalties. Even Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association who represented Tevez in his disciplinary hearing over the incident in Munich, admits the striker has put himself in a difficult position.

"I feel very disappointed, to say the least," said Taylor. "The lad is digging himself a hole and it is getting deeper. If, as I have been informed, he was clearly told he was not to return to Argentina and he has flagrantly breached that instruction, that goes to the heart of his contract and could be gross misconduct in anybody's view."

Balotelli: I'm not mad, just strange

Mario Balotelli has scarcely been in the Premier League for 18 months but has already managed to set fire to his own house, throw darts at a team-mate, visit a women's prison and engage in a running battle with Manchester's traffic wardens, but the Manchester City striker yesterday insisted he was not "mad". He did, though, concede that he does some "strange" things.

"I am not mad, not at all, even if sometimes I do things that are a bit strange," he said on international duty in Italy. Instead, he believes it is the English media who have ensured his off-field misdemeanours attract more attention than his on-field achievements. "They tend to talk more about my private life than what I do on the pitch," he said.

"This is normal, but I get tired of it. And if I did not do the things I do, I would be bored. English newspapers like The Sun are worse than the Italian ones. A newspaper that puts naked ladies on the front cover strikes me as being particularly ugly.

"For now, though, I am happy with City. If the time is right in the future, though, I would return to Inter, but I like AC Milan and will not hide that."

Rory Smith

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