Tuesday at the Allianz, Carlos Tevez upped the ante in his quest to leave Manchester City. (Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images)
The Carlos Tevez saga hit a new low on Tuesday, with the lavishly compensated and wantaway Manchester City striker refusing to take the field in a Champions League game against Bayern Munich.
City manager Roberto Mancini, looking stunned as he addressed the media post-game, revealed that Tevez had refused to participate in warm-ups or to come off the bench in a game that his club ultimately lost 2-0 .
Essentially, Tevez went on strike during Europe's grandest competition. Not since Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen refused to take the floor in Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals has such a high-profile player quit in such dramatic fashion. (Jorge Posada also removed himself from the lineup for the New York Yankees for one day May, but then apologized the next day.)
In so doing, a man who is being paid $320,000 a week disgraced himself -- but he is unlikely to care.
This is the ultimate demonstration of so-called "player power," and it is unclear exactly what City will be able to do about it. The irony is Tevez is likely to get his wishes: He will never play again in City shirt and is highly likely to be exiled from the city he openly derides. He doesn't care about his reputation or the aghast reaction from the fans and former players who are condemning his selfishness. What he cares about is leaving, and in the modern game, where contracts mean nothing, his actions are the logical and nihilistic end result of player power.
Tevez has long been both controversial and a handful -- but what will really sting at Eastlands is the fact that both the club and his manager bent over backwards to accommodate their increasingly erratic star. Tevez and his manager Kia Joorabchian have long been at odds with the clubs that employ them: there was the deal that fell afoul of Premier League rules while tenured at West Ham; then a snit fit thrown while a player for Manchester United; and lately, a string of demands that a senior Manchester City official told the BBC were "ludicrous and unreasonable."
Tevez was also protected by Mancini for quite some time. The manager looked the other way at Tevez's outbursts about the club and his coaching and allowed the Argentine to skate away from the club on thinly-excused absences. In one notorious case, Tevez went on an Iberian vacation when he had told Mancini he was desperate to see his young family.
All of this was because of Tevez's fantastic production. He was City's leading goal-scorer in 2010-11 with 23 in only 39 games and wore the captain's armband until this season.
But something changed in the off-season. Tevez claims that the reasons for his unhappiness are all due to his young family, and it is true that they openly detest living in Manchester. But many suspect money is the main reason. Tevez had been reportedly seeking a contract that would pay him a whopping $2 million a month in wages and was also apparently upset over the signing of his Argentina national teammate Sergio 'Kun' Aguero. Mancini stripped Tevez of the armband after the start of the season, and Tevez has failed to produce a single goal this campaign.
Now, Tevez has been advised that if refuses to play, the club is likely to set him loose. And why not? Such intransigence works. Just this year, we've seen Fernando Torres and Raul Meireles force their clubs to sell them. Samir Nasri got to move to City after refusing to deal with Arsenal, and Barcelona was able to low-ball the same club for Cesc Fabregas after years of what we would consider outright tampering.
But until there is actual managerial power -- the likes of which only exist at a single club, Manchester United -- and contracts are made without a wink and a nod, Tevez is likely to be just the first striker to go on strike, not the last.