Carlos Tevez placed the prospects of a reconciliation with Roberto Mancini in jeopardy last night, declaring ahead of his return to England today that the Manchester City manager had treated him "like a dog" during their pitch-side dispute in Munich and questioning Mancini's sincerity in holding out the prospect of a first team return.
In a wide-ranging interview on South American television, in which he hailed Sir Alex Ferguson as one of his two greatest former managers alongside the ex-Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa, Tevez revealed the profound bitterness he clearly still feels about the misconduct charge and fine of two weeks' wages over his conduct during City's Champions League defeat in Munich.
The former captain, who is expected back at the club late today, tempered his comments with a declaration that he wants to renew his career at the Etihad Stadium, after attempts to secure moves to Milan and Internazionale fell apart last month. Perhaps vitally, in the context of Mancini's demand for an apology over Munich, he also says: "If I was wrong, I say sorry. I sincerely believe I did not make a mistake." There has also been a notable absence of negative comments from team-mates in his absence and there is a prospect of him receiving a reasonable reception.
But, in his first explanation of his conduct in Munich, he portrays Mancini as a manager in the throes of a steaming row with a recalcitrant Edin Dzeko, when he lashed out verbally at Tevez as well, in Germany.
Tevez, who portrays himself as baffled at having been stripped of the captaincy and reduced to the bench, described how Dzeko and Mancini began arguing after the Bosnian was unhappy to be substituted in the Allianz Arena.
"Dzeko referred to Bosnia and Mancini swore at him in Italian, so it was a real mess," said Tevez, who had been told to warm up. "So I go and sit down and he doesn't see me because he is having this discussion. But then he turns around and sees me and you can imagine what happens. He's in the middle of an argument – so he tells me to keep warming up and treats me like a dog. So when he spoke to me in that tone of voice I said, 'No, I'm not going out'. I was willing to play but the coach was in such a foul mood because he had that argument with Dzeko he started on me as well." City made no comment last night.
Tevez also revealed the distress he felt when, having disappeared to Argentina for four months, he became aware of last October's story about fans burning his jersey, having dressed it on a doll. "It really hurt," he said.
The player's representative, Kia Joorabchian, insisted last night that Tevez was describing feelings he has had in the past. Joorabchian added that it was "important that the football takes over from here". But Tevez had many grievances, including City allegedly not repaying his loyalty – citing his desperate efforts to get himself fit for last season's FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United, when a muscular injury had put his role in jeopardy. "In 20 days I got over this injury and got to the final and I played very well. And all these things I did for the club and [yet still] to end up leaving through the back door."
Tevez said he welcomed the prospect of Mancini holding out a first-team return if it was genuine – but not "if he only said it for the media". He also said that statements issued by City over the Munich incident had "protected the manager", and described how the two had "almost hit each other" in the dressing room during last season's home game with Newcastle United. Mancini arrived to find Tevez giving an impromptu team talk and ordered him to sit down.
The Argentine's litany of dislikes for the English game, detailed in the Fox Sports Latin America interview, include having "to train on 24 December, sometimes play on the 25th. It's tough. I don't like that." He also expressed his regret there will be less golf. "In England it's the middle of winter now so I won't be able to play much."
Mancini's staff feel that Tevez is more than three weeks from match fitness and he has been retained in the club's Premier League squad. How City fans will take to Tevez's declarations of respect for United personnel remains to be seen. "I know [Sir Alex] Ferguson really doesn't want to lose this title race," he said. "I know Ferguson didn't have the best relationship with me but together with Bielsa those two are the best managers I had. Paul Scholes is the best professional. Him, [Wayne] Rooney and [Ryan] Giggs – I have no words."
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