Manchester City's delight at taking joint leadership of the Premier League after a 3-1 victory at West Ham yesterday was marred by the news that their captain and leading goalscorer Carlos Tevez has made a formal transfer request.
It was not immediately clear whether his reasons are essentially to do with football or family. That story will only be told when he offers an explanation or expresses a preference for joining a European club or returning to Argentina.
Tevez has complained for some time about how much he misses his children, who have remained in Buenos Aires. But there have been problems at City too, which were highlighted last week when he reacted furiously to being substituted in the last minute of the home game against Bolton.
The club's manager Roberto Mancini has repeatedly denied suggestions of a rift, claiming after the last incident that he wanted players to be unhappy at being brought off. Awarding Tevez the captaincy was seen as a way of giving him greater responsibility but it does not appear to have worked.
The news had not broken when Mancini's assistant Brian Kidd addressed the media after yesterday's game, the manager having rushed off to Italy straight afterwards in order to visit his father.
Tevez missed the match against his first English club because of suspension, though Kidd said he was in the country and was available for the midweek match against Juventus in the Europa League.
In his absence the midfielder Yaya Touré was City's best player, scoring the first goal and forcing the second – an own goal by Robert Green – in a comfortable victory.
The three points took City level with the leaders Arsenal, who have a better goal difference. They play third-placed Manchester United at Old Trafford tomorrow after the champions Chelsea, now down to fourth position, play away to fifth-placed Tottenham today.
Kidd, who narrowly missed winning the championship as a City player in 1977 when Liverpool pipped them by one point, said it was too early to talk about the title. Avram Grant, the manager of West Ham, who stay bottom of the table, predicted: "They can be champions for sure. They are a very good team, with good balance, and are very powerful physically. They can go all the way."Reuse content