DES KELLY: Cool it, Tev and Nev - and that can't get lost in translation
First, let's clear up a translation error. As so often happens when a foreign interviewwings its way back to the English media, words are mangled and phrases are taken out of context. That is why it is important to point out Carlos Tevez did not actually call Gary Neville 'a boot-licker' or even a 'sock-sucker', as one newspaper timidly claimed. No, the colloquial interpretation of Tevez's remark is that he branded Neville a 'butt-kisser'. I just hope that clears up any ambiguity, even if journalistic clarity comes at the expense of your breakfast. To prevent more misunderstandings, let's stick to plain English with a message to the players of both clubs. Children, grow up. Puerile: Carlos Tevez would do well to heed his own message to Gary Neville The open hostility between a new-born Manchester City and a less than imperious United is undeniably engrossing, but it is worth reminding all concerned that they are supposed to be at the pinnacle of their trade, professional sportsmen charged with the responsibility of representing two of the most famous clubs in world football. And just look how they behave. Tevez is hopping about, cupping his ears in front of the manager who decided he wasn't worth (or who just didn't have) £25million and gesturing to a former team-mate. Having collected five winners' medals in two seasons at Old Trafford and a hefty pay rise from his new employers without even concerning himself with the inconvenienceof moving, it is fair to say, as worthy causes go, Tevez is still some way from qualifying for a mawkish Simon Cowell charity single. But by God he's milking the idea he has been hard done by. Yes, I believe United made a mistake in allowing him to leave Old Trafford, as I have said many times on this page. I even saw the depth of his disappointment and frustration up close. When United beat Chelsea 3-0 at Old Trafford last January, I was watching from Tevez's executive box, alongside his wife, his daughter, and another guest called... who was it now? Oh yes, Diego Maradona. (If you're going to drop a name, make it a decent one). To the dismay of his entourage, Tevez was considered surplus to requirements for a game billed as the title decider and, despite chants from the crowd and enthusiastic attempts to catch Sir Alex Ferguson's eye, he never appeared. More from Des Kelly... DES KELLY: Surely it's time to send Benitez through Anfield's exit door15/01/10 Des Kelly: Chill wind of debt keeps clubs away from January sales09/01/10 Des Kelly: The age old debate. 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And then there is Neville, warming up and preparing his muscles for the exertions ahead, which usually involve little more than jumping up and down in front of opposition fans as an unused substitute. This experienced England veteran of 85 caps decided to respond to Tevez's histrionics by carefully extending his middle finger. This is not the act of a distinguished club captain, but at least he didn't pull a ligament. Just for the record, Tevez is 25. And Neville is 34. Should they insist on continuing to trade teenage insults, I'm sure they have one another's telephone numbers. They can send abusive texts, amend their list of Facebook friends or email one another rude pictures of butts being kissed without a care, just as long they keep it private. Of course doing this in front of millions instead makes for amusing theatre and I'm aware the media love the feuds between players as much as anyone else, but these displays do have consequences. The antics are the only green light some idiots need. On Tuesday, there was crowd trouble outside the Eastlands Stadium. Police say they confiscated golf balls and even darts at the turnstiles. The semi-final second leg at Old Trafford on Wednesday is going to be even more charged, with thousands of fans arriving with their own exaggerated sense of grievance, just like Tevez. Should there be a serious outbreak of hooliganismthen any player who helped incite it should answer charges. Of course, in these situations, it helps if clubs act in a sensible and responsible manner. Unfortunately, City's chief executive is the irredeemably crass Garry Cook. This braggart paraded in front of a fans' forum in New York and hung his considerable chin out to declare: 'People don't like to hear it, I'll make no excuses for saying it and never stop saying it - this football club is going to be the biggest and best in the world. It's not if, but when we are at Wembley, having beaten United yet again'. How can you tell players or fans to grow up, when those in positions of authority are such puerile, posturing little hold on, let me find my Spanish dictionary again. Welcome to the Ann Summers stadiumIt says a great deal about how low West Ham's expectations have shrunk when people start yelling: 'Woo hoo! We've got the pornographers in!' Who'd have thought the day would arrive when David Sullivan, who once ran half the adult magazine market, and David Gold, another top-shelf entrepreneur who also owns the Ann Summers shops, would be feted at Upton Park? Sullivan: 'near misses' Sullivan even looked as if he'd stepped out of one of his old low-budget British sex movies as he arrived on his first day in a purple velvet jacket. Having bought 50 per cent of the Hammers, they are now doing their best to portray themselves as rescuing heroes, setting suitably vague targets ('Champions League in seven years') and slagging off their predecessors. Sullivan made a point of singling out previous chairman Eggert Magnusson for recruiting older players on huge wage deals as a short-term fix to keep the club in the Premier League. And in the next breath, Sullivan revealed he had been trying to buy Ruud van Nistelrooy on £100,000-a-week to do the same. Birmingham City say they are familiar with these stories, where big transfer talk is followed by a trail of 'near misses' and escalating ticket prices. Some of that criticism is unfair, since Sullivan and Gold kept the Midlands club in existence. One thing is certain. There are so many West Ham fans at work on the sports desks of national newspapers, the new owners aren't going to get away with smuggling very much out of Upton Park in a brown paper bag. For starters, the ground's naming rights are up for grabs. I can see it now: The Ann Summers Stadium. Can they stay up? Ooh er, missus. Well done. You've just sponsored Newcastle United. Yes, you the taxpayer have handed up to £10million over to a football club. Northern Rock was in such a mess the Government nationalised it and now the directors of the bailed-out organisation have decided to use your money to prop up another horribly-run business - Mike Ashley's laughable football circus. Remember, this is the club that paid serial offender Joey Barton £675,000 a year for 'image rights'. So don't worry, your money's clearly safe. I assume everyone is now entitled to a free ticket, or an invite to the Northern Rock corporate box. After all, we've paid for it. No rest from the wicket, skipperAndrew Strauss has dropped his first noticeable clanger by opting out of England's Test tour of Bangladesh. From this point on, as far as his captaincy is concerned, it's not a case of do as I do, but do as I say. He is England's leader and figurehead. It's a burden he has shouldered well on the whole, but this is not a responsibility that can be set aside, at least not without consequences. Like it or not, Strauss has set a precedent. Players can now pick and choose where and when they want to play for England and squeal about unfair treatment if they are not welcomed back with open arms, like the captain. What does Strauss (right) do when Kevin Pietersen declares himself 'too tired' to play for England? Does he examine his commitment, or share holiday stories? Strauss doesn't play Twenty20 cricket and could have opted out of the one-day games in Bangladesh, returning for the two Tests, without anyone batting an eyelid. Doing so, he would only have had to concern himself with little over a fortnight's work in three months. That's plenty of time to unwind on the sunlounger. In a previous existence as the sports editor on a couple of national papers, I tried to persuade the cricket correspondents to return at the end of any Test series and leave the one-day postscripts to a deputy. The rationale was it might save their marriages and reacquaint them with their offspring, as the players aren't the only ones spending months away from their families. The cricket writers always declined. Not necessarily because they were happy to be thousands of miles away from their spouses, but because they were unwilling to give a subordinate the chance to shine in their absence. It's the same with the England captaincy. This is a hard-won honour. Yet it is an accolade very easily lost. Michael Schumacher has traded numbers with his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and now has No 3 on his car instead of No 4. We are told this is because Schumacher is superstitious and 'has a preference for odd numbers'. Of course he does. Knowing Schumacher as we do, I suspect his superstitions extend no further than being clearly visible as the top-ranked driver in his new team.
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