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Brave Blues make vital stand

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22 Dec 2010 10:27:35

| Submit Comments| Comments (3)| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapFrom football murderers to guardians of truth and justice in the space of two dramatic weeks ? City have undergone the transformation of the season. The wailing and screeching at the start of the season was unholy, as the Blues dipped into the transfer market once more, setting a financial pace which even Chelsea and Barcelona found hard to match. They were ruining football, cried the shallow pundits, apparently unaware that money has long been the key to success in any professional league in the world, and even more so since the greedsters set up the Premier League in 1992. But by standing up to two of the most malignant aspects of modern top-flight football, the dictatorship of agents and player power, the Blues have done everyone an enormous favour. Now it needs more top clubs to show such immovability when the Kia Joorabchians of this world start their pernicious games of wheeling and dealing, and when top players like Carlos Tevez are temporarily blinded, not only to which side their bread is buttered, but to the fact that the butter is in thick lashings. The stand-off between City and £230,000-a-week Tevez ? and his advisers ? was, make no mistake, a vital stage of this season. If it had been mis-handled, it could have had devastating effects from the dressing room to the board room, and a season of great promise would have become just another repeat episode of the City soap opera. Tevez, and Joorabchian in particular, were testing the water, irrespective of the fact that the player had a very lucrative contract still in place for another five years. The fact Roberto Mancini, Garry Cook and Khaldoon al Mubarak stood so firm in the face of such ill-timed rebellion is to their great credit. No-one knows the detail of what happened, but while Tevez was assured he is a key figure in City?s ambitions for this season, he was also left under no illusions that if he insisted on trying to exit on his terms alone, City would play hard ball. That could have meant an assurance that any loyalty bonus ? a misnomer in modern football ? would not be paid, while the generosity, both financial and in terms of time off, would very quickly dry up. Tevez?s advisers bungled the very public transfer request from the start, sending out mixed messages. It wasn?t about money, we were told, and then it was all about Cook ? whose only real contact with Tevez comes when they talk about money. Joorabchian then turned his fire on Cook, perhaps believing the chief executive was an easy target because of a couple of verbal gaffes he made early in his stewardship, and that Mancini was bomb-proof after leading the Blues into strong positions in the Premier League and Europa League. It was a tactical error. Cook has got his head down since his errors ? which were, in any case more down to his affability than any lack of judgment. Support The work he has overseen off the pitch, especially in relationships with the City support, has been concrete, and fans see that. Give them a choice between Cook and Joorabchian ? a man feeling snubbed after his attempts to tap into the wealth of City had been thwarted ? and there was only one winner. This was a testing time for Cook, as Joorabchian shone the spotlight on him, rather than on Mancini or the suave, unshakeable chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak. But the message which emanated from the fans, and from the dressing room, was that Tevez?s people had over-stepped the mark. That must have been hugely encouraging to Cook and the rest of the City executive team. Suits are easy targets at any football club, especially one as high-profile as City, and to feel their voice of influence in the City dressing room backing the club?s stance will have been a major fillip. To then realise that the fans had fallen in behind the club?s standpoint with a mixture of anger, worry and sheer frustration at the transient loyalty of today?s footballers, will have been a clincher. If Tevez?s advisers expected a mass rising from the City fans, demanding the heads of Cook and Mancini, and for the skipper?s desires to be pandered to, they were sorely mistaken. When you have seen it all, as City fans have, and have first-hand knowledge of the old Rudyard Kipling line about treating the impostors, triumph and disaster, with equal disdain, Tevez?s camp was never going to win. Of course, it could be that Tevez was pacified with a promise that he can go at the end of the season, his side of the bargain being to give all he has to change the course of the Blues? history. If that is the case, it is a good deal. If City get into the Champions League ? an overwhelming priority ?  win a trophy, or both, Tevez could leave as a hero. City would also be perfectly placed, financially and in football terms, to move on and replace him. Edin Dzeko already appears to be heading to Eastlands in January, if the jungle drums are anything to go by, and a man widely regarded as the best striker in the Bundesliga should prove a major asset. The Tevez episode has been a key moment in City?s history. The rest of football should take note, and make it the start of a real stand against mercenary greed and manipulation. What do you think? Have your say.


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