You know there’s something wrong with football when Roberto Mancini can take the moral high ground without the rest of the world keeling over in fits of laughter.
But that’s how crazy things are over at Manchester City. A manager who spends a few hundred million pounds on players and still complains about not having enough midfielders – while the rest of the world stares at a financial crisis – is a veritable saint compared to the wretch that is Carlos Tevez.
“In the middle I didn’t have any players because we have James Milner and Nigel de Jong out injured,” Mancini said a couple of weeks ago, conveniently ignoring the fact that Yaya Toure, David Silva, Samir Nasri, Gareth Barry and Owen Hargreaves could form their own boyband of midfielders.
Toure could be the tall, buff one who only pretends to sing while performing some overdramatic dance moves, and Silva could be the shorter, more boyish looking one who constantly stares longingly into the camera while clutching his heart. Nasri, of course, would be the token bad boy.
But I digress. I’m just way too excited about Westlife coming to Malaysia. Oh, the memories…
Incidentally, did you know that Westlife’s Nicky Byrne (the shorter, more boyish looking one who constantly stares longingly into the camera while clutching his heart) was a former professional goalkeeper, and was in Leeds United’s 1997 FA Youth Cup winning squad?
I digress again. The point I was about to make about Carlos Tevez was that it takes someone quite absurdly rotten to make Mancini and his City slickers look good. And this is a team that has pathological idiot Mario Balotelli in it.
Yet Tevez has managed to achieve that with two simple words – “¿por qué?”, everybody’s favourite telenovela phrase (translation – “why”). Fitting, considering the soap opera standards of City’s season so far.
According to newspapers who bothered enough to get lip readers, that’s what Tevez said when he “allegedly” refused to come on as a substitute against Bayern Munich during their Champions League tie.
That was enough for Mancini to get all high and mighty at the post-match press conference, proudly declaring that Tevez would never play for City again, inadvertently making himself the leader of the lynch mob that has been calling for Tevez’s head ever since. You know, for the good of the game.
That mob included managers like Mick McCarthy, whose sagely wisdom we all so crave for.
He weighed in on the debate with his usual arrogance – you know, since he’s the boss of the mighty Wolverhamptom Wanderers – saying if he were Tevez’s manager, he would’ve left the player on the tarmac in Munich because he’s “bad for the game globally”.
Sadly, a manager like him will never get to a position to manage a world class player like Tevez.
But wretched and rotten as he is, if you asked me, I think Tevez is hardly the problem with the football.
Yes, Tevez has been trouble from the minute he stepped off that plane in London. He was trouble for West Ham United (£5.5million worth of trouble thanks to that record fine for his illegal transfer to the club), he was trouble for Manchester United (refusing to stay at the club beyond his two-year loan spell because Alex Ferguson had “disrespected” him) and now he’s trouble for Manchester City.
He hasn’t bothered to learn English (who knew who he couldn’t even say “why”?), he has complained endlessly about life in England, and he continues to act like a petulant child while receiving the kind of money in a month that I probably wouldn’t do in my lifetime.
So, why would I defend him, especially considering how much I have loathed him ever since he left United?
Take a look at the headlines from this weekend’s Premier League action. Arsenal fans, supposedly well-educated Londoners, were taunting Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor with mass chants about the gun attack on the Togo national football team bus last year, which left three people dead. “It should have been you” was the clever line they came up with.
A week before that, Manchester United fans at the Carling Cup tie against bitter rivals Leeds United unfurled a banner with an utterly humourless reference to two Leeds fans who were stabbed to death in Istanbul.
Leeds fans responded by chanting about Munich and the plane crash in 1958 that killed eight of United’s fabled Busby Babes team.
Other major headlines have included Arsene Wenger’s refusal to shake the hand of Spurs coach Clive Allen, and QPR star Adel Tarrabt storming out of the stadium after being substituted at half-time, only to be caught posing for pictures with fans near a pub.
And that’s just this weekend.
Ask yourselves – who is the poster boy for the England national football team? Wayne Rooney, the man who slept with sex workers while his wife was pregnant, and who used the loyalty of a club that has turned him into a global superstar as a bargaining tool to negotiate an even ludicrously higher contract.
Owen Hargreaves, having earned a healthy salary from Manchester United for four years where he played less than 30 games, had the cheek to turn around and accuse the club of ruining his knees and hampering his recovery. Sorry Hargo, but you really were made of glass.
Half the England squad have been linked with vice girls at some point, and we might be finding out even more after Rio Ferdinand’s privacy case against the Sunday Mirror was dismissed, a possible landmark case in favour of the English tabloids.
It seems players and fans alike in English football have taken that sense of self-entitlement a little too far, thanks to this grotesque culture of excess often masked as passion that has been slowly growing beneath the polished exterior of the Premier League.
Tevez might be the latest personification of that. but he wasn’t the one that broke the rules to bring himself to the Premier League. West Ham did.
The money he earns might have bloated his ego, but City were the ones who were more than willing to pay him. They even made him club captain.
Mancini’s own son, Filippo, was revealed to have recently refused to come on as a substitute in a match for City’s youth team, just like Tevez in Munich.
He’s not a contracted player like Tevez, who earns £1,000,000 a month, but that’s not the point. He’s a young boy who has been given the chance to live the dream as a well-paid professional footballer (even if it’s with City), but apparently that wasn’t good enough for him.
So Roberto Mancini can go all saintly on Tevez now, but in truth, he’s just as much a part of the bigger problem that now taints English football.