"Carlos did not refuse to play, and what he did was no worse than Cesc Fabregas, Luka Modric and Samir Nasri refusing to play." That was the startling and contradictory defence of Carlos Tevez delivered by his adviser Kia Joorabchian yesterday, a defence which is unlikely to improve relations with Manchester City, given it was made in the middle of the club's internal investigation into the Argentine's apparent refusal to go on as a substitute against Bayern Munich last week.
Joorabchian, speaking at the Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge, then poured further oil on the flames by suggesting that other managers, such as Sir Alex Ferguson, would have handled the affair better than City's Roberto Mancini. In a further inflammatory twist, he insisted Tevez's post-match comments in Munich, which appeared to be a confession that he had refused to come on, had been mistranslated and blamed the club for not having a "professional" translator.
"We have seen this happen all through the summer," Joorabchian said. "I think we have seen Fabregas, Modric... Nasri, the list goes on, but they are the high-profile names. Throughout the summer they were handing in transfer requests, refused to travel, refused to play. I think that is a problem in general.
"My opinion is that they refused to play, but they refused to play in a different way [to Tevez]. Cesc had a big problem all through summer. Modric handed a transfer request in. I think he didn't play in the first Europa League game and it was reported that he did not want to play."
Fabregas, who was being pursued by Barcelona, did not play in Arsenal's pre-season games but the club said he was unfit and there is no reason to dispute that. Nasri played for Arsenal against Liverpool days before his transfer to Manchester City was concluded. Modric, the subject of bids from Chelsea, was left out of Spurs' opening Europa League game at Hearts, as were several other Tottenham players. He then told the Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, two hours prior to kick-off that his head was not right to play against Manchester City, but Redknapp insisted he played. Spurs lost 5-1. Modric stayed with the club and is playing regularly.
"Those managers and clubs handled it very differently [to Mancini and City]," added Joorabchian. "Robert has his style of management. He is very direct and totally different to, let's say Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger or Carlo Ancelotti. Carlos feels that he has been judged and condemned before the case has really been looked into. Carlos and Roberto now have to live with the manner with which it has been handled. Can they be reconciled? This is something for the two of them to work out. They need to sit down and have a conversation."
That cannot happen immediately. Having been interviewed for City's investigation earlier in the week, Tevez flew to Argentina yesterday. He is serving a suspension imposed by the club but intends to fly back in time for training next Thursday.
Regarding the incident, Joorabchian said: "What happened on the bench in Munich is one of a lot of confusion, as shown in the TV footage, which shows a totally different light. From my interpretation the TV footage shows a lot of argument going on on the bench when [Edin] Dzeko comes off.
"Carlos was still warming up. He walked back to the bench and there was a God-awful row between Mancini and Dzeko. Then Carlos sits down. Then you see the physical trainer talking to Carlos so we don't see they [Mancini and Carlos] are talking. Carlos then stands up, there's more shouting, then sits back down. That's what we see from the footage. The next thing we hear is what Mancini said."
That was the manager's accusation that Tevez refused to play. The striker was then interviewed on Sky with Pedro Marquez, a Portuguese who had acted as interpreter for media interviews at the club in the past but who is employed as City's opposition analyst.
"Carlos does speak English but it is not good enough to host a full-blown interview," said Joorabchian, not that the post-match flash interview is in-depth. Joorabchian added: "If you don't have a very professional interpreter you have a problem. I speak Spanish and English. The interpretation was incorrect. Both questions were interpreted incorrectly and both Carlos' answers.
Joorabchian did not, however, recount his version of Tevez's response to Geoff Shreeves' first question which is usually translated as "I felt it wasn't suitable to go on because my head wasn't in the right place. I didn't want to go in because I thought I was unwell. I wasn't emotionally well and thought it better not to."
Joorabchian, who has been linked to Tevez for much of his career, added: "I have known Carlos since he was 18. You can never criticise him for his commitment when he is on the pitch or for not wanting to play. Throughout his career he has been the one who fights to play. There's been several times during his City career where he has taken injections to play. There have instances [at Corinthians] when doctors have told him not to play."
Tevez took events personally, Joorabchian said, because he "was one of the first players to join Man City's new era" and rejected Manchester United and Real Madrid to do so. He added: "Carlos was brought in to start that new vision. He has an intense feeling about it." That, at least, is not in dispute.