Manchester City's Tevez is undeniably a fine footballer, but why would any club shell out the transfer fee and huge wages, watch him initially prosper and form a bond with the supporters, only to do one when he gets sick of the weather, food, or air quality?
There are some players who have incredible talent and the odd quirk that you excuse in order to include them in your football team. The Dutch master Dennis Bergkamp’s irrational fear of flying made him a bit part player in Europe, having to undertake long, nomadic treks days in advance of his team’s departure to be included at all. Paul Gascoigne was a raging alcoholic with a penchant for plastic breasts, rash tackles, kebabs and a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Diego Maradona was completely wild, coked out of his mind but still the greatest that ever lived. George Best would sup a half time Guinness while his team-mates bit into their oranges. Mario Balotelli probably trumps them all and we all love him for it.
It is what makes sports great, that unlike the office jobs or the building sites most of us frequent, with their tedious rules and tyrannical authority figures, there is room for madness. If you’re good enough, you can break the rules. Even if you are punished for it, the people will love you. Even when your liver packs in, your septum drops out, or your knees just can’t bend any more, you will always have a lifetime of work public speaking and making appearances anywhere and everywhere. We all love a talent but a mad one, a true maverick… We love those most of all.
However, what if your quirk was just being a disloyal goon? What if you had a track record of simply manufacturing big money moves to clubs only to then proceed to scr*w them over a couple of years down the line, citing some tired excuse that makes no sense, proclaiming the next club to be “home” before starting the cycle anew once you’ve burned through the signing on fee? Would it matter what you produced on the pitch if it was going to be so short lived?
There’s always a reason to move on, whether it be clashes with the management or a sudden home sickness
That, as things stand, is set to be Carlos Tevez’s legacy, an incredibly talented footballer who seems incapable of staying grounded in one spot for too long, his strings pulled by the shadowy puppet-master-come-football agent Kia Joorabchian. There’s always a reason to move on, whether it be clashes with the management or a sudden home sickness that can be mysteriously remedied not by moving home but to another country altogether.
And it is no recent phenomenon. It goes back to his days in South American football when, in a deal that was the most expensive that continent had seen, he joined Corinthians from Boca Juniors and signed a five year deal in 2005. It only lasted a season before he refused to play again for the club and started looking to secure a move to an English club.
Seemingly owned by one man – presumably Joorabchian had him making the tea in the Media Sports Investments office – most of the big clubs passed and in the end West Ham, in dire straights, took the gamble. He may well be remembered there fondly, his supposedly illegal inclusion having secured the club’s premiership status at the expense of Sheffield United, but it’s easy to forget how he acted like a spoiled brat for most of his time there.
But it wasn’t a big deal as in a rare moment of madness Sir Alex Ferguson decided that what Man Utd needed was a player of such loose morals. It went well for a season, his work rate fitting in with the Man Utd system, but half way through his second season he suddenly had become disillusioned with life at Old Trafford. “Why oh why won’t they offer me a permanent deal” he bemoaned, probably in a comedic Argentinian accent (actually, he didn’t because he will never learn a word of English despite being happy to take the exorbitant wages of English football clubs). When that offer of a five year deal did come a knocking, mysteriously it wasn’t good enough.
The transfer request was rightly rejected on the grounds it was ludicrous. Carlos had to endure another season on his £200,000 a week wages.
It wasn’t enough just to slash on the United shirt, constantly using the media to try and make it look as if he was forced out when chairman, manager and even the player’s agent public stated that a deal had been put on the table. He had to go one better than that and join Manchester City, a team Carlos had paid no mind until they coincidentally became the richest in the world.
He settled into the club well and was both a workhorse and goal scorer. He earned the captain’s arm band. Perhaps now at the tender age of 25 he had learned a thing of two and would settle down. Then it started again. First he tried to manufacture a move away from the club citing he had a personal disagreement with executives at the club… In reality he probably had more conversations with the tea lady, as you’d expect from any well organised club. Their point of contact is the manager. The transfer request was rightly rejected on the grounds it was ludicrous. Carlos had to endure another season on his £200,000 a week wages.
He stumbled on an idea… What if he said he was homesick? They’d have to let him go then. After all, he was a family man and this whole working away from them thing was really taking its toll. He told the media in Argentina he’d not be going back to Manchester City “even on a vacation” but, it turned out, he had to. So he did, reluctantly. And even though it might never have shown in his effort on the pitch, his relationship with the club was unravelling.
The last straw was him refusing to come off the bench as a substitute in what turned out to be a must win game in Manchester City’s first ever run in the Champions League. He claimed it was a misunderstanding. It was never fully explained exactly what the misunderstanding was. Since then he has been placed on “gardening leave” returning to his native Argentina, still being paid by the club even though he will never feature in another competitive game for the club and only revealing himself while trying to wheedle his next big money move.
They are under no pressure to sell and even if pundits argue his presence is like a poison at Man City, their results without him suggest otherwise.
But just why are there so many suitors? Do they think that this time will be different? Do they themselves not understand that Italy or France are further away from the Argentina he claims he so badly wants to return to? Do Corinthians not appreciate what an insult it is to all their fans to even consider resigning him? At the end of the day, talent or not, the mess you’ll be left with when he decides he wants to leave isn’t worth it. If it wasn’t City, being paid those wages for not playing would cripple most teams if they were stupid enough to pay them in the first place.
Which is why, collectively, the best thing for the true lover of football is that all clubs choose to ignore him. Think on it. He is at the one club that can really serve him up his just desserts, the one club that can afford to pay for the privilege of ruining his career and treat him with the same disdain he has treated every club he has been at. They are under no pressure to sell and even if pundits argue his presence is like a poison at Manchester City, their results without him suggest otherwise.
Instead though there is likely to be that one club that will take that expensive gamble and they will lose. Tevez will be freed from the prison of his own creation and footballing justice will not be served. Whoever does end up with them will rejoice on his arrival. Give it a year or two and they will wish they’d burned the money instead.
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