Manchester City suspended Carlos Tevez on Wednesday while they investigate his conduct in their Champions League match at Bayern Munich in which manager Roberto Mancini said the striker had refused to come on as a substitute.
Mancini told reporters that the Argentine had ignored his instruction to warm up early in the second half of Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat and that Tevez was “finished” while he was manager.
Tevez, who has found controversy follow him from club to club, denied refusing to play and the Premier League outfit are now trying to get to the bottom of what happened.
“Tevez has been suspended until further notice for a maximum period of two weeks,” the club said in a statement on their website (mcfc.co.uk).
“The player’s suspension is pending a full review into his alleged conduct during Tuesday evening’s 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.
“The player will not be considered for selection or take part in training whilst the review is under way.”
Tevez, who is ruled out of Saturday’s league trip to Blackburn Rovers before the two-week international break, earlier sought to placate City fans whom he has already angered over the past year with his open desire to leave the club.
“There was some confusion on the bench and I believe my position may have been misunderstood,” he said in a statement, according to local media.
“I would like to apologize to all Manchester City fans, with whom I have always had a strong relationship, for any misunderstanding that occurred in Munich.
“They understand that when I am on the pitch I have always given my best for the club. In Munich on Tuesday, I had warmed up and was ready to play.
“This is not the right time to get into specific details as to why this did not happen. But I wish to state that I never refused to play. Going forward, I am ready to play when required and to fulfill my obligations.”
If Mancini sticks to his guns, Tevez’s words will fall on deaf ears at a club whose patience he has tested several times.
Last December he put in a transfer request that the club turned down, while he lodged another at the end of last season citing family reasons.
He made scathing comments about Manchester on an Argentine chat show in June, saying the city “has nothing” and is “very expensive” and that he was “never going back to Manchester, not even on holiday”.
He nevertheless returned after a planned return to Brazilian club Corinthians fell through but was stripped of the club captaincy and found himself relegated to the bench as compatriot Sergio Aguero was paired with Edin Dzeko up front.
It is a major fall from grace for the player who won City fans’ hearts with his work rate and goals after a controversial move across the city from Manchester United in 2009.
His arrival in the blue side of the northwest English city created a storm when City posted a giant ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboard following his defection.
It was a sign of things to come and also the latest in a chain of headline-grabbing issues that Tevez has been at the centre of during his time in England, despite City breaking a long trophy drought by winning the FA Cup in May.
His first English club West Ham United were fined for breaking rules on third-party agreements regarding player transfers when signing him from Corinthians in 2006.
There followed a protracted legal battle with Sheffield United, who sued West Ham for the cost of relegation saying the Londoners should have faced the drop instead because they ought to have been given a points deduction as well as the fine.
After two years, the clubs settled out of court. In the meantime, Tevez joined Manchester United in another controversial deal involving more player ownership issues.
He then upset United fans by moving down the road to City.
That transfer provided Tevez with a platform he never had at United to be the team’s main goalscorer and it looked like the flow of controversy around him might have been stemmed.
He became popular with City fans and even last season finished joint top scorer in the Premier League despite his wish to leave the club.
What happens next remains to be seen as Mancini said he would be talking to the club’s owner Sheikh Mansour, who is likely to be unimpressed by the widespread criticism of the player from the footballing world and British media.
“He is a disgrace to football,” former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness, now a Sky television pundit, said. “The owners need to get him as far away as possible because that type of behaviour can spread.”