Roberto Mancini said yesterday that he will not allow Carlos Tevez to embroil Manchester City in a drawn-out summer transfer saga which could wreck their plans to build for next season.
Tevez would be much more likely to commit to City if they achive Champions League qualification for next season, a goal that would also make Mancini's future at the club clearer.
Mancini revealed yesterday that Tevez's two weeks away in Milan, a city where the striker might be employed by next August if Internazionale's possible £40m bid firms up, were not spent with the Argentinian team doctor but with a masseur and acknowledged that he will need another of the heart-to-hearts he had with Tevez at the end of last season, to establish where he stands with the 27-year-old.
"After we have won the FA Cup and if we go into the Champions League, [then] we can talk with him about this," said Mancini of Tevez, who will not be considered for Wembley if he is not fit to face Tottenham at Eastlands four days before. "Yeah, yeah [we need to do it early]. We need to talk but we have time for this." Mancini said he did not believe a top-four finish would dictate the Argentinian's future.
Mancini's discussion of Sunday's home match with West Ham, which could see City move to within two points of Arsenal with a game in hand if Manchester United prevail at the Emirates, included a sense that he does not feel totally secure about his own future. "First of all I have to concentrate on getting into the Champions League and winning the FA Cup," he said. "But also, all the hard work has been in the first year and a half, to build the basics. I would be very disappointed to leave after the hard work is done, to leave someone else the work that will be easier from now on."
He rejected suggestions of a summer move to Juventus, despite La Gazzetta Dello Sport's claims that he is in "pole position" to land the job which will be vacated by Gigi Delneri in the summer. "I cannot clarify something that didn't happen. You can only clarify something if something happens. Because if it didn't happen it is pointless to clarify it," he said.
Tevez's recuperation from his hamstring tear has been such that he has been running for the past three days, having returned to Carrington with the Argentina squad's masseur on Monday and there is some belief that he will be back in action as early as tomorrow week at Goodison Park against Everton. The manager denied that he was giving the player special treatment by allowing him to be in Milan, where Tevez's actress girlfriend has also been working.
"I have respect for this [treatment]," Mancini said. "I trusted my masseur and another doctor and I think today it is difficult to say 'don't go there and don't go there' because all these players come from another country and they are used to other treatments. This masseur is here now but [Tevez] went there [to Italy] because this masseur was there to treat [Inter's] Walter Samuel. I don't think it is important who and where, it is important that he recovers."
Mancini said that James Milner would play a part in the run-in, despite his omission for the last two games after his petulance when he was substituted against Liverpool. "I think he can improve a lot but for this we have time next year. He is a fantastic midfielder."
The City chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, has asked the club to take steps to eradicate the "Munichs" chant which soured Monday's 1-0 win at Blackburn. The club's Abu Dhabi owners were aware of the meaning of the chant, which they feel is damaging to the image of their club and there are likely to be a series of messages through the match programme, again urging fans to desist. "I didn't hear this because I don't know this situation but I think we should have respect for what has happened many years ago," Mancini said.