Carlos Tevez last night made a remarkable u-turn over his desire to leave the club and withdrew his transfer request but he could not prevent his side going down 2-1 at home to Everton and missing out on the chance to be top of the Premier League at Christmas.
The defeat followed a dramatic day at City when Tevez met members of the club's board, including chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak who made it clear to him that players will not be allowed to renege on their contracts. City found Tevez's outlook to be more positive than his public statements have suggested.
The City captain was given a warm welcome on a freezing night at Eastlands but he failed to lift a City side who went 2-0 down in the first 19 minutes to goals from Tim Cahill and Leighton Baines. Victor Anichebe was sent off with an hour gone but City, who also had captann Kolo Touré dismissed in injury-time, could not find a way through.
After the game Roberto Mancini said that the decision of Tevez was "the only good news" of the evening. "It is important news," Mancini said. "It is very important for everyone, for the squad, for him. It also means we can finish talking about the situation. We are now focused.
"We are frustrated by the result because we hoped to be top [of the English top-flight at Christmas for the first time in 81 years]. It was a fantastic chance but now we must re start the season. The season is long and maybe we can go to the top [again]."
There are fears that Tevez may yet agitate to leave again in the summer but for now at least City are confident they have the situation under control. The Argentine came closest to scoring last night in the 77th minute after Mario Balotelli's shot had hit the post but he was denied by Tim Howard, one of Everton's outstanding performers.
As for David Moyes, whose team go into 14th position with their first win in eight league games, the Everton manager said that he hoped the victory could finally kick-start their season. "It is a victory against one of those teams who could be crowned champions at the end of the season," Moyes said. "We haven't been on the best of runs so rightly we are delighted."
As for City, The meeting with Tevez did not involve the player's personal manager, Kia Joorabchian, as City will deal only with the player directly, and having reduced the complexities of the situation to a face-to-face conversation, the club believe they will have the 26-year-old's goodwill and co-operation as they head into the second half of the season.
Before the game City said in a statement last night: "Carlos's contract remains unchanged and both Carlos and the club are keen to focus on the opportunities that lie ahead."
City's tough line over the non-negotiability of a contract in mid-season is a key part of this outcome. Ahead of yesterday's meeting, there had been a feeling at the highest level of the club that a dangerous precedent would have been set had Tevez been allowed to succeed in agitating publicly for an improved deal or to leave Eastlands now for a better offer.
Senior officials at the club regard the example of the conduct of the France squad at the World Cup as an example as an indicator that it is crucial that player and agent power must be checked and that the club must not return to the situation of two years ago, where agents exerted control over transfers and contracts.
The view from within Eastlands is that allowing Tevez to emerge from the events of the past week with a move or a new deal would be a reversion to the "old City".
There remains uncertainty at City that the faxed transfer request from Tevez's lawyers, which Joorabchian says Tevez dictated in Spanish, was a true reflection of how the player feels about the club. Khaldoon invited Tevez to call him after the faxed transfer request landed last Tuesday evening but the chairman received no reply. Tevez, who told ancillary staff at City last week that he was not leaving, seems to have been surprised by the furore which news of his transfer request had created. Tevez has told the club he is content and they are convinced that they have no reason to doubt him.
City's position of financial strength enables them to take a firm position. While history points to clubs with disenchanted stars selling to prevent them disappearing into the reserves and reducing in value, City can afford to take a financial hit if they sell the Argentinian at a loss this summer.