Tevez v Mancini? Part II

Dear handsome, oh so lonely fellows, welcome back on this VD day. After spending the post earlier today complaining about meeja laziness and sloppiness, it was brought to our attention that one of our barbs at the Guardian was incorrect: we had accused them of fabricating a quote by paraphrasing the gist of what Tevez had said, which we’ve caught them doing before. The line in question, which we have since removed, was “The club statement protected the manager.” The quote originally came from the on-the-fly translation of our esteemed colleague @MundoAlbicelest. He did not enjoy the comfort – and, indeed, the shocking indolence – that allowed us to listen back a few times.

Dear handsome, oh so lonely fellows, welcome back on this VD day. After spending the post earlier today complaining about meeja laziness and sloppiness, it was brought to our attention that one of our barbs at the Guardian was incorrect: we had accused them of fabricating a quote by paraphrasing the gist of what Tevez had said, which we’ve caught them doing before. The line in question, which we have since removed, was “The club statement protected the manager.”  The quote originally came from the on-the-fly translation of our esteemed colleague @MundoAlbicelest. He did not enjoy the comfort – and, indeed, the shocking indolence – that allowed us to listen back a few times.

The difference is minimal but important; it’s a subtle difference. We were convinced the original quote was not accurate as it seemed surlier than his demeanour in the rest of the interview. It turned out it appears right after the video we put subtitles to, so lovingly, ended. So what could we do to rectify the situation? Simply remove the line after a whopping pub-at-eleven-in-the-morning-ful of people had read it? No, a retraction was necessary, a retraction and a clarification. So, wallowing in our own free time, we found the audio in question and scribbled out the transcript for you. An act of love.

It is important, however, as this part of the interview is arguably the cornerstone of Tevez’s defence as it justifies to a certain extent his subsequent flight. He claims that everyone at the club supported him in the investigation into what happened in Munich – everyone testified that he had not refused to play. The problem was that Mancini came out after the game, in a pretty understandable rage, and declared that Tevez had refused to play. That meant that, given the findings of the enquiry, the club was going to have to contradict the manager. This could cause all sorts of problems. In the event, the club chose not to do that. Tevez, therefore, had to leave.

Ol’ pegamequemegusta don’t have the tools to find out whether there is any truth to this or not. Tevez’s version of it, however, is coherent, free of equivocations, and he is not pushed along by the interviewer at all. (In fact, he changes tack, annoyingly enough). Moreover, he displays a level of understanding of the difficulty the club found itself in that we would not have expected (“The club found itself between a rock and a hard place”). We would love to know if there is any truth to what he is saying as it’s quite a compelling argument. 

Picture it. Mancini, thunderstorm raging outside, a fire doing its elemental best to attract his attention like a poor juggler at a porn convention, brandy goblet sloshing in his palm like the fates of men, with the richness reserved for kings, his faithful scarf tucked into his collar. A messenger enters and states timidly that the enquiry has found that Tevez never refused to play. An owl hoots hoarsely; a waxwing coos at is reflection in a window as it glides past cooly. Give me pause, sirrah, quoth the Italian. He pets his pet giraffe. No, nevermore will that shit-stirring, disrespectful little tyro interfere in my plans! Not even that lanky elf Edin is a afraid of me anymore! He thinks i’m going to be the one to fall here? Not on your mother’s barnet, Carlitos. You’ve lost some of your stuffing now, me boy. No, the club can choose – it’s him or me. He looked down at his glass. The rolling waves of souls in the brandy parted to reveal a sunken city. And a penny. Mancini straightened his epaulettes. Still got it. 

Tevez Fox interview continued [part one here]:

– So after that, they decide to fine you and you make a certain decision, no?

– Yeah, well I was okay with the fine but we still had to sort out how I was going to come back to the club. ‘Cause the manager wouldn’t even look at me. And I was worried, too, about how I looked in all this, as I was getting knocked around by everyone, everyone was having a go. In England, In Argentina, even in China, for jaysus’ sake. So I said: ‘Look i’m an employee of the club, just as Mancini is. You have to look after me just as much as you do him, as another employee of the club.’ But Mancini had said something that wasn’t true so the club was between a rock and a hard place. “If we go and say that Mancini lied, he might have to step aside.” That’s when I fell out with the directors, with the club management, ’cause they were saying that they weren’t going to put that in the statement. The thing about the statement was it had to find a way of saying that I hadn’t refused to play but that I had refused to warm up, all the while protecting the manager,  without saying straight out ‘No, Carlitos didn’t refuse to play’.

– Now, Carlitos, you’re a guy who’s been playing football your whole life, who’s always wanted to play, so I imagine what was bothering you was – whatever about the personalities involved or the club – was that there was this unresolved conflict. It looked as if you had refused to play but what you were really annoyed about was this situation which hadn’t been cleared up properly.

– Yeah, that’s what I was annoyed about. The fine didn’t matter, nor did the suspension. I don’t care about two weeks wages. Just tell people the truth. Nothing else. But they weren’t able to do that.

– That’s when you decide to come back to Argentina. You think about your family, your loved ones. Just like all the players abroad who want to play there but are always thinking about Argentina. And apart from everything else, you surely wanted your people here to know what had really happened.

– Yeah, and besides that, just leaving the house in Manchester, to bring Flor to school, meant having five journalists following me. I’d go for a round of golf and there were ten more in every hole. I couldn’t live a normal life as it was all ‘Where’s Carlos Tevez? What’s Tevez up to?’ And then training 20 or 30 days with the reserves, with the youth players, 14 and 15 year olds. The kids were looking at me and they couldn’t believe what was going on.

– More autographs than training, I imagine.

– The team would train in the morning and when they were leaving at one i’d just be arriving. It’d be uncomfortable for anyone, no? So all that stuff, plus the fact I wasn’t in a good way, meant I came back here.

– So you came back here to get away from the situation over there and spend time with your family here.

– Yeah, but imagine I left without even telling anyone from the club. I was getting different legal papers, summonses, every day. I still am, asking me what’s wrong, why won’t I come back, saying I have to go for a medical…

– With Manchester City’s doctors?

– Yeah. The whole thing was really draining, exhausting, and I needed to get some solace with my family… Though they were saying I was fine and nothing was stopping me from going back to training with the club.

That’s enough of that. You get the drift.

Tevez v Mancini?

Too often with Tevez, the narrative is that of the charming wisecracker from the hood (over here) or the brooding, egotistical simpleton (over there). In this interview we get a fine example of the former but Niembro doesn’t try to go any deeper. It’s a shame as pegamequemegusta reckons that a different interviewer – an Andy Kusnetzoff, for example – could have done a lot more for Tevez. The inane, PR-orientated question of an apology would never have arisen. We might have got a real insight into what this guy’s all about and the root of his destructive tendencies. Such are the limits of sports journalism, however, never mind the bollocks the newspapers print.

Always with the scoops, pegamequemegusta. Indeed. Yet we needed a reason to return and the latest instalment to the latest Tevez truth-respect-don’t-ask-me tale, despite being covered in great detail by our compinche Seba García, would be incomplete without our standard yes-but-no-English-media-argh response. Plus it has a video. With subtitles. So bear with us.

Tevez’s account of what happened in Munich reminds us of some of the reasons he’s so loveable. He tells his story well, showing a comic’s sense of timing and, occasionally, the studiously arched brow of a mime. He also displays a Johnny Giles-style totall recall of the events, which boosts his credibility considerably. Few players in recent years combine both his success as a player and his skills as a raconteur. (Messi? Iniesta? Ibrahimovic? Mr Lowe got a good flow out of Xavi alright, but he’s still too nice). This, however, later found us lamenting that we don’t get to hear Carlitos talk much about football anymore.

That is down, of course, to the never-satisfactorily resolved question of his ownership/representation. It’s unquestionable that his career has been messed up by his continued alliance with the snake Joorabchian, whose tendency to hiss in the ear of the directors of whatever club he’s at inevitably brings dudgeon of the highest order. His blindness in this regard over such an extended period, however, means that Tevez himself is responsible. His circle of advisors even seems to be expanding, new ones briefing the media every month. These tend to stand in direct proportion to the sanity of the advised.

(We wonder how things might have been if Tevez had had Jorge Mendez as an agent. Manchester United would almost surely have seen less of a problem with the fee to ‘sign him up’. Similarly, if Liverpool had pegamequemegusta as a scout, they might have Maxi Moralez on the left wing instead of the Downer; Suarez and Evra would probably never have fallen out, two popular South Americans there to mediate – ay but the world would be a happier place).

Nevertheless, the world does not seem a particularly dark place in this interview. Indeed, the Man City bench sounds like an unruly classroom. An unruly classroom, arguably, with an inexperienced teacher quickly losing the rag and lashing out. Tevez’s maturity and professionalism may not be what they should be but his account of Mancini’s behaviour on the sidelines is certainly convincing. Neither behave very well but, we must say, we ended up liking both more.

While Carlitos’ initial list of grievances is petty and somewhat disingenuous, there comes through an image of Mancini as being particularly vindictive. As Tevez says in another part of the interview, the manager is in a stronger position now following the signings of Aguero and Balotelli, and he’s content to have Tevez warm up all season long. Carlitos doesn’t seem to resent it, though. Far from the brooding, ‘bashing’, ‘swiping’ Tevez presented in many quarters, we get the impression that he actually respects (key Tevez term) the fact that Mancini is such a hardass. His smile when recounting the Dzeko-Mancini Bust Up bespeaks genuine fondness for a bit of an auld ruckus. In the Guardian today, however, – never mind the cutting and pasting of quotes to change their order – he is presented as a baby: “Mancini said some horrible things to me”, he said before taking out a hanky. Almost coming to blows with the manager last season he regards as perfectly normal in a dressing room. Mancini is not his teacher after all, and there are few things as retarded as a media apology. Things only get messy, he says, when they’re out in public. That’s when image and standing come into things, stories get twisted, spin spun, and players run.

Saying things in public, hmm. It’s hard to know what Carlitos was thinking exactly when he decided to do this interview, for it clearly wasn’t to make an apology. Even if it was, why would he do so in Argentina? At least one of his 50 representatives surely must have pointed out the English media’s tendency to twist and deform the message and the tone, when their errors don’t just stem from laziness and incompetence. (The supposedly highbrow, high standard, noble Guardian is arguably the worst in this regard; they should know better).

No, Tevez most likely decided on his own, as always, that he wanted to ‘tell the truth’, be honest in his usual hands-up, bemused manner. Even if he’s not particularly contrite, shall we say, neither do we think the interview contains as much scandal as some have claimed. More than anything else, it gives us an intriguing insight into the relationship between Tevez and Mancini, one that, given the character of each, we reckon could really work if given a(nother) chance. Neither are PR men.

The interview is arguably as interesting for what is not said as it is for Carlitos’ colourful account of events that night in Munich on the world’s most expensive bench. There are aspects to Tevez’s frankly silly career of the last few years, however, which go far beyond this sordid affair and which are never probed by anyone. Fernando Niembro, the interviewer, does a fine job here keeping him on track, coaching him through the story and, strangely enough, even trying to get a tamer version at times (“You were surprised?” instead of “You were pissed off?”). He’s a chummy, jocular fellow is our Niembro; he likes to be mates with his interviewees (we recall a memorable pre-WC interview with el Diego where the two are strolling around a pitch, with cones and everything). He does not press much, however. He does not seek to get to the bottom of Tevez’s problems. These, in our opinion, besides the Joorabchian stuff, appear to have gotten worse.

Carlitos has clearly never ‘adapted’ to life in England, repeatedly stating his desire to leave over the last year and a half. We struggle to have sympathy in that regard, however, and his new baby’s illness last year notwithstanding, most of his problems (such as breaking up with his missus) seem to be of his own making. Yet his revelation last August that in the Copa América (where played prett-ty badly and missed the penalty that saw Argentina knocked out) he had gone on a binge where he was so anxious he could not stop eating must give pause for thought. He gained five kilos in a few weeks – not the behaviour of a man in his right mind. Think Alan Partridge with toblerone. Again, his own problem, but it seems rather foolish on the part of City if, buoyed by new signings, spiteful perhaps at perceived slights past and eager to assert themselves after several years of not being taken seriously at all and even suffering a few humiliations (Kaká, Robinho, etc.), they neglected him because, as he says, he was no longer indispensable. No doubt the changes in the club’s hierarchy had something to do with it, but it was arguably a inopportune time to start getting tough.

Too often with Tevez, the narrative is that of the charming wisecracker from the hood (over here) or the brooding, egotistical simpleton (over there). In this interview we get a fine example of the former but Niembro doesn’t try to go any deeper. It’s a shame as pegamequemegusta reckons that a different interviewer – an Andy Kusnetzoff, for example – could have done a lot more for Tevez. The inane, PR-orientated question of an apology would never have arisen. We might have got a real insight into what this guy’s all about and the root of his destructive tendencies. Such are the limits of sports journalism, however, never mind the bollocks the newspapers print.

Here’s the most interesting part of the interview. Let us know what you think. And try to find the part where he says Mancini treated him as a dog…