Carlos Tevez is a player for whom considerable concessions have been made by Manchester City. Midway through the previous season, Roberto Mancini granted him permission to travel to Argentina for an extra few days whilst recuperating from injury. He was subsequently spotted in Tenerife with a couple of women. Despite this betrayal of trust, he held on to the captain’s armband – an honour which remained his in spite of his obvious desire to leave the club.
The resentment between Tevez and Mancini was tangible. Nevertheless, recognising the contribution the former Manchester United striker brought to the team in terms of goals and guts, the Italian continuously relented. Following a summer spent agitating for a transfer, Mancini’s deference to the striker stretched to the extent that Tevez was accepted back into the match day squad, minus the captain’s armband and the guaranteed starting place.
With Manchester City trailing Bayern Munich by two goals to nil, Mancini turned to the man for whom his patience has been saintly. With Mario Balotelli absent, Tevez represented his route back into the match. The Argentine flatly refused. In his stead, the doughty if uninspiring James Milner, Aleksandar Kolarov and Nigel de Jong entered the fray. Little changed. Manchester City continued chasing shadows, allowing the Bavarians the freedom of Munich to sweep cross-pitch passes and play through the midfield. The game, in that instant, was well and truly up.
With his knack for scoring decisive goals in a succession of 1-0 victories and his industry when guaranteed a starting place, fans buried their necks in the sand as to Tevez’s indiscretions. What effect he was having within the dressing room was ignored. That City may be playing with inhibition; that individual players might not be treating Mancini with the respect that his position of authority required, was simply not considered. Tuesday night at the Allianz Arena may prove to be the night patience snapped.
Rebellion within the City camp was not confined to the wantaway striker. Edin Dzeko reacted to being substituted by Mancini by rowing with his manager, culminating in the Bosnian throwing his tracksuit top to the ground in disgust before flouncing to the dugout in a fit of self-righteous anger. Assistant manager David Platt was seen attempting to calm a visibly irate Pablo Zabaleta as mutiny reigned. Mancini exuded all the authority of a supply teacher who had long since given up on an unruly classroom.
For all the action off the pitch, City were listless on it; powerless to stop Bayern Munich who manoeuvred the ball at will. Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure were particularly hopeless in midfield, whilst Franck Ribery gave the Bavarians the flair to complement their precision passing in the final third. With Samir Nasri and David Siva so uncharacteristically subdued, how Mancini must have craved a figurehead like Ribery.
For all the controversy off the pitch and the total domination on it, two quick-fire, predatory Mario Gomez goals, first to react following two excellent Joe Hart saves, separated the teams. Given the circumstances off the pitch, it seemed fitting that the defence were so unwilling to react to the rebounds.
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