Roberto Mancini made the extraordinary decision to call Carlos Tevez to his Cheshire home for talks in the early hours of yesterday morning, in an attempt to defuse the monumental stand-off between them.
Tevez visited the Manchester City manager's home in Alderley Edge at 1am after a day of intense legal negotiations, which had left the 27-year-old Argentine determined to pursue any appeal open to him, in the event of City fining him £1.5m for alleged breaches of contract. The player accepted Mancini's invitation to meet and did so after he arrived back in Manchester from London by train. The offer from Mancini is a remarkable one, given that City have been so intent on keeping their two-week inquiry into Tevez's alleged refusal to enter the field of play at Bayern Munich on a quasi-judicial footing.
The impasse between the two sides had certainly seemed unbreachable before Tevez took a train north from Euston on Wednesday evening. He had met two members of the City inquiry panel earlier in the day for the conclusion of the club's inquiry, soon after touching down at London Heathrow from Argentina at 6.40am on Wednesday. There was no breakthrough in that meeting – which, by one account, saw Tevez demand that Mancini issue a public apology to him for claiming he refused to play. The two sides then spent much of Wednesday in intense legal negotiations which ultimately failed to find a resolution.
It is alleged that when Tevez arrived at Mancini's house, he was offered a deal by the City manager that would allow him to train with the first-team squad again for the first time since his dispute with the manager during the second half of the Champions League defeat on 27 September. Sources close to Tevez also allege that in return Mancini wanted a public and private apology from the player to him and to the club's chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak. Tevez, who was indignant to be told earlier in the evening that City had decided to put him through a formal disciplinary process, categorically refused to apologise. It is understood that Mancini did not offer to halt the disciplinary proceedings initiated against Tevez in return for an apology.
City confirm that the meeting took place and insist that it in no way affects the neutrality or impartiality of disciplinary proceedings that will see the player appear before a panel – probably on Monday or Tuesday of next week. The club's portrayal of the meeting is as one in which Mancini sought to establish the player's state of mind and secure some kind of détente. Despite the impasse between Mancini and the man he appointed as club captain last season, City also suggest that the two parted relatively amicably, with a handshake.
Another explanation of Mancini's unexpected actions is that he was seeking to manage the Tevez situation rather than have to confront the striker at the club's Carrington training ground yesterday in front of the rest of the squad. Tevez trained yesterday for the first time since he was alleged to have refused to come on in the game against Bayern.
Mancini's willingness to meet Tevez and get on to his wavelength provides a sense that he does not consider the relationship between then to be utterly irreparable and that, despite saying in Bayern's Allianz Arena that his striker was "finished" at City, he will entertain the slim possibility of playing him if he can secure some form of private climbdown from the Argentine.
City's determination that Tevez should not be "convicted" until he has been through the full disciplinary process saw him being driven into the club's training base in his Hummer at midday yesterday. He was told to arrive several hours after the rest of the club's senior players and was forced to train alone with fitness coach Ivan Carminati. A similar routine is expected to be prepared for him today by Mancini, who arrived at Carrington on his bicycle yesterday.
It is understood Tevez was ready to apologise for not warming up, provided Mancini apologised for accusing him of refusing to play. City rejected this. Tevez is expected to appeal against the decision to the City board and – if that fails – he can take his case to the Premier League. This process could last well into December.
West Ham are monitoring developments to establish if they can take the player on an emergency loan until January. Their manager, Sam Allardyce, said yesterday that he believes Tevez's best chance of playing again before the January transfer window is in the Championship with West Ham. City have already rejected such a move but Allardyce said: "When the decision is finally made regarding what's happening with Carlos then perhaps [the co-chairman] David Sullivan might want to pursue it."