Leading article: Football? That's not what he's there for

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The Independent Online

It scarcely matters whether the Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez refused to come to his team's aid when summoned from the subs' bench by Roberto Mancini, or whether, as he insists, he was the victim of confusion. The perception is that the Argentine player could not be bothered to bestir himself to play what remained of the second half against Bayern Munich, despite a salary of £250,000 a week. Cue a stream of volunteers to take his place among frustrated City fans; a torrent of righteous indignation about team spirit, and much breast-beating about the star culture in Premiership football.

We do not share this view. Indeed, we would go so far as to suggest that the critics are being too hard on Tevez and misunderstand the role of such luminaries in today's game. Their purpose is not only, or even chiefly, to don the team strip and kick a ball around, but to entertain. How they do this – with their accessorised WAGs, their unpunished dives, their hair transplants, their wandering eyes, their plangent homesickness or (as in this case) a sullen appearance of being glued to the subs' bench – matters little. Tevez clearly understands this imperative better than his manager does. And if such diverting conduct speeds him to wherever he would prefer to be, he can claim a double mission accomplished.