Thursday, 29 September 2011

Carlos Tevez: The case for his defence

Carlos Tevez. Disgraceful. Ridiculous. Disgusting. And those are just the nicer things they’re saying about the talented little Argentinian after he allegedly refused to play for Manchester City at Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.

Manager Roberto Mancini, who has had to deal with a fair few disgruntled players in his billionaire-infested dressing room over the past 18 months, says Tevez will never kick a ball for City again.

The former Liverpool and Scotland manager Graeme Souness sounded like he might have shot the bloke for his bizarre actions on the bench at the Allianz Stadion.

And yes, for a bloke paid £250,000-a-week, you’d expect better. At least a ten-minute burst, though it wouldn’t have made much of a difference on a night when City were comprehensively outplayed, one of those nights when they lost 2-0 and were lucky to get nil.

But I have a case for the defence Carlos Alberto Tévez, the 27-year-old from the mean streets of Ciudadela in Buenos Aires. Though he stands barely 5ft 8in (1.73m) high, he somehow survived the toughest of upbringings in the distinctly dodgy neighbourhood of Ejército de Los Andes, known as "Fuerte Apache". And he grew up to become "El Apache" with his elaborate skills attracting the attention of Boca Juniors.

Scarred by boiling water as a child – he was in intensive care for two months after the incident – Tevez refuses to have cosmetic surgery when he made it as a young professional. When Boca Juniors offered a cosmetic surgeon, he said simply: “My scars are part of who I am.”

But other, less obvious scars remain. As a youngster, Tevez found himself in a difficult position in those early years in Argentina. So along came a company called Media Sports Investments, and an Iranian-born agent called Kia Joorabchian.

Both Tevez and his mate, Javier Mascherano, suddenly found the money pouring in... but at a price. Joorabchian and his company now owned the pair’s registrations. Against all FIFA regulations, Tevez had effectively had his footballing soul purchased.

The rest is history. The controversial loan move to West Ham United from Brazilian club Corinthians, where he had been named player of the season. A difficult start in London, but then the goals which saved the Hammers from relegation in 2007. Remember all that? The last-gasp goal against Manchester United. Salvation. The furore when it was discovered West Ham didn’t actually own his registration.

Sheffield United tried to sue, the FA looked generally confused, FIFA made statements... and Manchester United quietly moved in for Tevez, while Mascherano sloped off to Liverpool... and eventually Barcelona.

Though successful with United, Tevez then made the shock move across the great divide to Manchester City amid further stormy headlines and, worse, angry frowns from Sir Alex Ferguson.

Why did he make the move? Simple. The poor bloke is still run by Joorabchian. He still gets a cut. When Tevez demanded a transfer over the summer – despite a fine season at Eastlands last season – what did we find? A certain Kia Joorabchian telling us: “Everybody is working to make this happen, me, Corinthians, Tevez and Adrian Ruocco (another of Tevez’s representatives). It is impossible to determine the situation, but I think it’s close.”

I didn’t happen of course. But given the week’s events, it might now. And that’s my defence of Tevez. Yes, he should be raring to play at every opportunity for a club that pays him all that money. But he claims there was a misunderstanding... and he’s got Kia Joorabchian plotting his every move.

A couple of weeks ago, after claiming Tevez wanted to be closer to his wife and family in Argentina, Joorabchian claimed he nearly pulled off a swap deal, with Wesley Sneider moving to City and Tevez to Inter Milan.

That didn’t happen either. But Joorabchian, explaining why Mrs Tevez and the kids might be happier in Milan than Manchester, insisted: “Carlos is the kind of player who adapts everywhere he goes. He adapts to every league and has won every major domestic competition he has ever played in. He himself has no problem with Manchester but, culturally, Milan or Spain would be easier for the wife to adapt to.”

Really? Or is this all about money. And the share of the transfer and wage negotiations which will go the way of Mr Joorabchian.

That shame of it is, Tevez is one of the finest talents to appear in the Premier League. But from where I sit, his career has been blighted by what amounts to being footballing slavery.

And for that reason, I find it hard to condemn the man.

1 comment:

  1. Neil Tevez's past does not allow him to behave in this manner, there are youngsters in the city camp who look up to him. i hope these players of today can learn to put their feelings aside on match days because people pay good money to watch them play. thanks Neil great stuff.