|

Tevez meets his match in Man City’s owners

by Christopher Davies

LONDON — And the prize for the climbdown of 2010 goes to . . . Carlos Tevez, who has been left eating so much humble pie he will need to diet.

The Manchester City captain slapped in a transfer request two weeks ago, citing irreconcilable differences with two executives, one of whom was chief executive Gary Cook. After a meeting with City chairman Kaldoon AlMubarek and Cook, Tevez withdrew his request and pledged his total commitment to the club.

Why the turnaround? How were Tevez’s irreconcilable differences miraculously sorted out in an hour or so? Easy. The Argentina international was told he was going nowhere, and if he carried out his alleged threat to retire, City would sue him for the remainder of his contract.

It was a welcome and crushing blow to player power and while congratulating a club that so ruthlessly sacked Mark Hughes a year ago does not always come easily, on this occasion football should be united in giving a collective high-five to Mubarak.

Tevez, who finds new reasons to want to leave clubs, has met his match with the Abu Dhabi-based City owners even though, for reasons best known to himself, manager Roberto Mancini won the battle to keep the striker as captain.

A year ago, City had 32 points after 18 games which wasn’t good enough to save Hughes from a coldblooded sacking. After 18 matches this season City also has 32 points having spent £120 million on new recruits but Mancini is safe (as safe as any manager can be in these mad times on planet football) because the Italian is the owners’ appointment. City is only two points behind leader Manchester United and the title is still a reality.

Mancini’s problems are as much off the pitch. He has a dressing room overflowing with millionaire egos and must heave a sigh of relief when a day goes by without some sort of intersquad row or training spat.

How do you handle a player like Mario Balotelli who, when accepting the Golden Boy trophy for players under 21, claimed only Lionel Messi is a better player. Yes, the same Balotelli who was shown the door by Inter Milan and who has two goals in seven Premier League games? The sad thing is Balotelli, who presumably rates Xavi and Andres Iniesta plus Cristiano Ronaldo below him, means it.

* * * * *

LET ME get this right. Qatar campaigned for and won the right to stage the 2022 World Cup in June/July of that year.

Now, FIFA (or rather president Sepp Blatter, though it’s the same thing) is happy for Qatar to move the finals to January and share the tournament with Dubai or the United Arab Emirates.

That’s cleared that up then.

The madness continued when FIFPro, the world players union, became involved. Tijs Tummers, its secretary, said: “It is not sensible to award a World Cup in the summer to a country with an average temperature of 41 in June and July, a midday temperature of 50 and above all, extremely high humidity.”

True, so why did FIFA award it to an outdoor sauna?

Tummers added: “We will of course have to take a careful look at the international match calendar, but FIFPro does not foresee any insurmountable problems in this regard. Space will have to be made for the tournament, even though many countries already have a winter break.

‘ ‘In Europe, competitive matches will have to be played in August and the second half of May and the first half of June.

That’s it then. Just totally disrupt the domestic season of all of Europe’s powerbrokers but Tummers sees no insurmountable problems. Is he unaware of the power of football’s paymasters television?

There is a mandatory two week break before a World Cup finals, which makes it a six-week winter break. And are players expected to be plunged straight back into their domestic leagues? What do the players NOT involved in the World Cup do? Train for six to eight weeks before the superstars return?

In England, from the middle of December to mid-February there are on average 10 Premier League programs plus three rounds of the F.A. Cup. But according to Tummers they can be shunted into August and June. Wrong. To play all those games would mean the season ending in July . . . after his members would normally be reporting back for preseason training for the following campaign.

Giving the World Cup to Qatar was a brainless decision matched only by Tummer’s suggestions how it can be moved. How can anyone in such a responsible position talk such utter gibberish?

* * * * *

ONLY IN football, I suspect, could anyone take over a successful concern and rip the heart out of it, causing internal turmoil and placing the profitability of the company into question. Of course, it doesn’t help when you have no knowledge of the business you have bought.

The Indian owners of Blackburn, who own Venky’s poultry company, are making a right pig’s ear of one of the Premier League’s established middle classes. They sacked Sam Allardyce, an experienced, reliable manager for reasons they have yet to explain and have now given the job to former youth team coach Steve Kean for the remainder of the season.

Blackburn chairman John Williams is considering his position after being kept in the dark as Venky’s seemingly does its best to ensure the club is relegated. Captain Chris Samba is one of many to go public with his criticism of the Ewood Park carnage.

Kean, no doubt saying what his bosses want to hear, hinted that with £5 million to spend in the January transfer market Blackburn could finish in the top five. Many in English football hope Blackburn is relegated as a warning to foreign owners taking over a club and proving they know nothing about football.

Christopher Davies was a longtime Premier League correspondent for theLondon Daily Telegraph.