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MARTIN SAMUEL: There's only Chelsea left for Carlos Tevez if he stays in England...
Published : 14 Dec 2010 01:10:56
It is surely no coincidence that in the week when Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, suddenly appeared happy and announced he had the backing of the owner and money to spend, Carlos Tevez asked to leave Manchester City. Chelsea is the only game left for Tevez in England now. He has burnt his bridges at Manchester United, Liverpool are currently off the radar as a destination for major talent and Arsenal do not sign £30million players. We don't know why, they just don't. Tevez would be too rich for Tottenham's blood, too. Poster boy: Manchester City's title hopes could be over if Carlos Tevez goes This leaves Chelsea, and a serious challenge to progress at City. Until now, all the talk has been of persuading world class players to join the club; nobody contemplated that as early as this winter they would need to coax one to stay. Trouble was predicted if City finished fourth or worse, but in the summer, not now. Bottom line: the Tevez issue shows how hard it is for a club, no matter its spending power, to break into the elite. Chelsea had been improving gradually for years when Jose Mourinho took over. He was the icing on the cake. By contrast, City had barely come back from the shops with the ingredients when Roberto Mancini arrived. Is it any wonder their concept seems at times half-baked? More from Martin Samuel... Martin Samuel: Old Trafford defeat proves Arsenal's familiar failings still dog Arsene Wenger13/12/10 Martin Samuel: There's never a dull moment in Harry's game at Tottenham12/12/10 MARTIN SAMUEL: Jacko's rave from the grave is no Thriller10/12/10 Martin Samuel: Hughton's end was a tawdry business, you can bet on it07/12/10 Martin Samuel: Bad luck Australia but the rain owed England one 07/12/10 MARTIN SAMUEL: Aussies pray for more rain after sinking to new depths06/12/10 Martin Samuel: 1,137 reasons why Australia look like mugs05/12/10 Martin Samuel: World Cup corruption... another nail in the coffin05/12/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE Tevez is selfless on the field, but high maintenance off it. Occasionally, both elements of his nature emerge, as happened at Bolton. After his usual hard shift, Tevez confronted Mancini on the touchline when substituted. TheCity boss took a huge risk this season by adding Mario Balotelli to an already incendiary mix at the club. Tevez has clashed with the Italy striker as well as his manager, and is said to be unhappy with the way the club is run. For all the talk of homesickness and disenchantment with football, unless Tevez wants out to return to play in South America - or makes good on a threat to retire from football completely - few will believe his transfer request is motivated by personal rather than professional matters. If the opportunity that piques his interest is a move to Chelsea, Tevez will be derided and his current employers made a laughing stock. Selling him would represent a far greater public humiliation than the failed bid for Kaka, given the capital City made out of Tevez's signing when it happened. Sir Alex Ferguson has always seemed disproportionately furious at those 'Welcome to Manchester' posters. He will be revelling in this. What happens next is fascinating. City - as expected - have rejected the transfer request, but the story does not necessarily end there. They can afford to keep Tevez, but a disaffected player is of no use, particularly if his mood alters and his form dries up, as it did for the Argentina star in the early months of last season. If City are ultimately driven to sell, particularly to Chelsea, their mission will be publicly redefined. The elite do not lose important contracted players to major rivals and, if they do, it is looked upon as a sign of weakness. If Tevez were sold to Chelsea, major transfer targets would look at City and wonder. Talisman: Selling Tevez to Chelsea would be a potentially fatal blow for City The damage would be felt long beyond January and only winning the Barclays Premier League could reverse it. Can City achieve this without Tevez? His goals this season include winners against Chelsea, Blackpool and Bolton; it is hard to imagine City in the top four without him, let alone as champions. Yet if Sheik Mansour insists he stays - and remember this is no tantrum, but a formal, written transfer request made after talks with Garry Cook, the chief executive - tensions would rise. Such are the growing pains of a wannabe elite club. Lose Mancini, and City bow to player power; lose Tevez, and the title may go to Stamford Bridge with him; keep both, and the training ground is a powder keg. Only City could wake up to a headache like this on the day they go joint top of the Premier League. Welcome to Manchester? They most certainly are. In the wake of England's failed World Cup campaign, as predicted, politicians have been turning their attentions to football. Clearly the financial crisis is long finished, and they do not have anything more important to attend to, like rioting in the streets. So it was interesting to note how some of football's staunchest Westminster critics have been making headlines themselves recently. First there was Mike Hancock (right), Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, who showed such consistency of thought when he argued that the Premier League's lack of foresight was to blame for the financial meltdown at the club. He had tabled an Early Day Motion when Portsmouth won the FA Cup with somebody else's money, congratulating the owner and calling for Harry Redknapp, the manager, to be knighted. Hancock's unerring eye for detail left him unaware that his House of Commons researcher Ekaterina Zatuliveter was not merely over here to read peace studies at Bradford University - ever thought it is taxpayers who should be laying siege to Westminster, not students? - but was a Russian spy, now awaiting deportation on the orders of MI5. Then there is Richard Caborn, former Sports Minister and Labour MP for Sheffield Central. Caborn, you may recall, knew next to nothing about sport when he took the job, but quickly realised that it was a lot more fun than politics, and now we can't get rid of him. Caborn is available to pontificate on the governance of football at the drop of a hat, as part of his campaign to be installed as the next independent chairman of the Football Association, an interest he declared in July. 'Is the FA fit for purpose? I don't think it is,' he said. This was before he faced a six-month suspension from Parliament for breaching lobbying rules. Caborn was recorded as part of a Channel 4 investigation telling a reporter his fee was £2,500 plus expenses, although we can be pretty sure he would want more than that to show football how to properly regulate its business. Just don't expect a Russian revolutionThe most bogus argument of all regarding future World Cup locations is that football will be the catalyst for better relations and understanding with Russia and the Arab world. This was what the 2008 Beijing Olympics was going to do in China, where the government last week rounded up its critics, tightened online censorship and detained friends and acquaintances of dissident Liu Xiaobo, ahead of his Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. (It would have been a presentation but Liu is serving an 11-year prison sentence so could not make it to Oslo, and his wife is under house arrest.) North Korea was another totalitarian regime that was going to be set free by football's fair hand, but qualifying for the 2010 World Cup ultimately proved no trade-off when it came to the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in South Korea. Gymnastics, which also welcomed North Korea's participation, has now banned the country from the 2012 Olympic Games for age falsification after female competitor Hong Su Jong's birth year variously turned up as 1985, 1986 and 1989. So do not expect Russia's relaxed rules on visa controls, introduced for the World Cup, to become a permanent fixture. Spartak Moscow fans celebrated the new openness this week with a small riot, during which passers-by of non-Slavic appearance were attacked and slogans included 'Moscow is a Russian city' and 'Russia for the Russians'. No doubt it will all be different after 2018. Just like China is now. AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT...Canada, hosts of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, had a misguided plan to own the podium. It would seem that Great Britain in 2012 intend to obstruct it. Lucky spike: Great Britain's women's volleyball team will compete at London 2012 The GB women's volleyball team will get an automatic qualification place at the London Games, despite being ranked joint 64th in the world, alongside 14 other countries including Haiti, Surinam and Caribbean island St Lucia. No harm there, you might think. The hosts are entitled to a berth in every sport, and the girls have worked desperately hard to raise the funds to keep going after their competitive programme was scrapped two months ago. Yet is the desire for Olympic participation reasonable when only 12 nations get to compete in the volleyball event? The top ranked team in women's volleyball, Brazil, have 240 points. The 12th placed team, Turkey, have 70.75. The noble no-hopers of Team GB have seven points and will now take the place of a far better group of athletes, who may never get the opportunity again. At the European League this summer, Great Britain were the only team not to win a game, and took just two sets out of 38. The 2009 competition was another 12-0 whitewash, with the team winning three sets out of 39. Next year Team GB will not be represented at all. The complete European League record reads: Played 24, Won 0, Lost 24, Sets won 5, Sets lost 74. Yet Great Britain's girls are going to the Olympics and another, more deserving, team are not. This is wrong. If the Games were come one come all, that would be different, but places are limited. Nobody expects to own the podium, but this is not school sports day. Everyone is not a winner. Amy Williams, Great Britain's first individual gold medallist at a Winter Olympics in 30 years, says she is struggling to find motivation since fulfilling her dream. This is understandable. An athlete trains exceptionally hard to win Olympic gold and, after that, what is left? It is difficult to maintain such singular dedication, which is why men like Sir Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent are exceptional. However, there is not much money in being a professional ex-skeleton slider, either, so Williams is still reliant on the £28,000 funding she receives as a podium-potential athlete from UK Sport. This is where indulgence should end. That is the nation's money and the nation is skint. Give it back or get to work. Anderson's duty on the home frontJimmy Anderson left the Ashes tour briefly this week to be at the birth of his child, attracting criticism from former England player Bob Willis, and others who feel modern sportsmen are slaves to political correctness. 'The Mothercare-buggy rolling thinking of the modern man,' Willis called it. The extension to this argument is that you don't get paternity leave in the Army, where the real men reside. Actually, this isn't true. James Anderson: free to put family first Army personnel, including soldiers, receive two weeks' paternity leave as standard, to be taken up to 56 days after the birth of the child, unless leave is delayed for operational reasons, at the discretion of the commanding officer. All soldiers are entitled to it, providing they have served a minimum of 26 weeks prior to 14 weeks before the due date. The two weeks' leave is on full pay, but 16 weeks can be taken unpaid. In addition, this is the online Army guide to paternity leave: 'An Army career is anything but nine-to-five. That's why as a soldier, in addition to your 30 working days' annual leave and public holidays, you can apply for additional leave when you need it. And if you have a family, you're entitled to time off to help with your responsibilities as a parent. 'Above and beyond the time off you get with any new-born arrival, you are allowed to take unpaid parental leave to look after your children. Over the course of your child's early years you may need to spend time at home if your child is sick, or because you need to change your childcare arrangements. Whatever your parental concerns, if you have served continuously for over one year, the Army is committed to ensuring you have the time you need. 'You may simply want to spend more time with your children in their early years. Until they turn five, you're entitled to up to four weeks' unpaid leave a year per child, for a total of 13 weeks. And because children with disabilities need extra care and support, in these cases this entitlement rises to an 18-week total until the child's 18th birthday.' PC enough for you? So, far from being a dummy-sucking stooge of feminism, Anderson actually took less time off to be with his wife and new baby than is allowed a fighting member of the armed forces. It would be a very warped world if the freedom allowed our soldiers was not available to our swing bowlers. Ricky Ponting conceded that Graeme Swann bowled well to give England victory in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide, but said he was under no pressure as there was no possibility of Australia winning the game. Nonsense. Had Australia escaped, courtesy of the weather, it would have felt like a win, so Swann knew he had to bowl the middle order and tail out by lunch at the latest. That is pressure. Moreover, Swann would have appreciated that if he did not get the job done he would be compared negatively to great match-winning spinners, such as Shane Warne. That is more pressure. He rose to the challenge superbly. If Australia had one bowler with half his character, they would not be in crisis heading for Perth. The damage done to boxing by the Haye-Harrison debacle is now visible for all to see. The points victory of Amir Khan (right) over Marcos Maidana was a cracking fight, but how many watched it, or cared? Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Matthew Pinsent, Roberto Mancini, Bob Willis, Harry Redknapp, Amir Khan, Jose Mourinho, Ricky Ponting, Amy Williams, Jimmy Anderson, Carlos Tevez, Shane Warne, Carlo Ancelotti Places: Moscow, Vancouver, Manchester, Liverpool, Canada, Turkey, Haiti, North Korea, Brazil, South Korea, Argentina, Australia, China, Italy, United Kingdom, Russia, Caribbean Organisations: Football Association, House of Commons