One man and his dog
Carlos Tevez has further tested the patience of Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini, by claiming he was treated “like a dog” over the infamous incident when he allegedly refused to play at Bayern Munich last September.
If City were hoping, in the wake of Mancini’s conciliatory statement towards Tevez on Monday, that the player would return to the club with his tail between his legs, they are destined to be disappointed.
Far from chastened, Tevez appears to have been emboldened by his three-month sojourn in Argentina.
“I want to win the City fans back over,” he said. “People turned their back on me. I didn’t understand City fans burning my shirt. It hurt. But it’s normal they react like that because they read lots of things.”
A promising start, but when it comes to his relationship with Mancini, Tevez reverts to his default setting of a recalcitrant teenager being forced to tidy up his bedroom.
“I never refused to play,” said Tevez. “I refused to keep warming up. He’s [Mancini] in the middle of an argument, so then he tells me to keep on warming up and treats me like a dog. I was willing to play, but the coach was in such a foul mood because he had that argument with [Edin] Dzeko. Mancini said some horrible things to me.”
Although Mancini expects an immediate apology he would be advised to not hold his breath waiting for one.
“Last season we almost exchanged punches after a home game with Newcastle,” said Tevez. “We almost hit each other in the dressing room but we spoke the following day.
“If I was wrong, I say sorry. But I sincerely believe I did not make a mistake.
“If it’s true [Mancini would welcome me back], of course I like that. But if it’s for the media, no.”
I suspect this is not the last we’ve heard about the Carlos Tevez saga.
Old Firm infirm
HM Revenue and Customs has lodged an application to put Rangers into administration.
On Tuesday HMRC lodged the order with the Court of Session in Edinburgh calling for the court to appoint an administrator. The move counters the club’s bid to file for protection against its creditors.
It was thought that the club had 10 days to make a decision on whether to proceed, but the HMRC action may change the situation.
The two parties are at loggerheads over a disputed tax bill and penalties of up to £49million, although there have been suggestions that the bill for Rangers could ultimately be as high as £7 million.
HMRC is believed to have acted to prevent the club’s owner Craig Whyte from pursuing the legal routes of receivership or pre-pack administration to avoid paying any tax liabilities.
If that occurred, HMRC, as an unsecured creditor, would receive very little if anything of the money it is allegedly owed by Rangers. Whyte meanwhile, as a secured creditor, could do very nicely out of it indeed.
The Champions League returns tonight, and in the wake of their defeat to Osasuna at the weekend, attention is understandably focused on holders Barcelona, who resume their campaign with a trip to Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen. That loss left the Spansh champions a near-insurmountable ten points behind in-form leaders Real Madrid, and raised questions about the possible end of the Barca dynasty.
Coach Pep Guardiola insists that he is unaffected by the current speculation, and feels that in light of Barca’s remarkable run of success in recent seasons, they deserve a little latitude.
“I did not mind what was said after Pamplona,” he told reporters.
“Not having won, I thought that I’d find myself in a situation like this. But winning 13 of a possible 16 titles shows that we do not throw anything away.”
“People think that because the league is now very difficult, we will win the Champions League,” he went on.
“And that if we do not win, it’s a failure – as if it were simple. I don’t understand that.”
Match fixing trial begins
Thousands of Fenerbahce fans have gathered outside a Turkish court house in support of 93 suspects, including the club’s jailed president, as the opening into their match-fixing trial began.
Security has been stepped up for the trial with large numbers of police keeping watch over angry fans.
Fenerbahce President Aziz Yildirim and 92 others have been charged in the scandal involving 19 league matches last season.
League champion Fenerbahce were barred from the Champions League because of their involvement in the match-fixing scandal and they could be stripped of its domestic title and face relegation.
Officials or players from at least eight Turkish clubs were implicated in the scandal. Former Giresunspor president Olgun Peker, described as the main ring leader, is among them.
The charges accused some suspects of bribing rival team’s players to play badly, or not play at all, and encouraging referees to favour with a particular team.
“The government might collapse, (chronic) inflation might go down but Fenerbahce can never be relegated,” Fenerbahce fans shouted outside the court house.
Which goes to show that an inability to keep any sense of perspective when it comes to discussing one’s football team, is not the sole preserve of Liverpool fans.
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts
UEFA has confirmed that it has won its case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against Greek club Volos, which was kicked out of the Europa League over links to match-fixing.
UEFA says the court dismissed Volos’ appeal against its expulsion and a further three-season ban from European competition, deferred for five probationary years.
Greece’s biggest match-fixing scandal erupted in June and led to more than 80 people being charged while Volos President Achilleas Beos was banned for life from all football activities.
Europa League rules require that clubs have not helped fix a match in the previous five seasons.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas ordered his players in for extra training on Sunday, but if he was hoping that his display of strength would help reassert his authority over the motley bunch, then he was in for a shock.
The more experienced players refused to take their medicine lying down and several of them, in front of the watching Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, gave as good as they got, criticising the Portuguese for his tactics and team selections.
The showdown coincides with a timely contribution from Villas-Boas’ former boss at his previous club Porto.
Porto president Jorge Pinto Da Costa told Gazzetta dello Sport: “In my opinion Villas-Boas made a mistake to leave Porto so soon. He thought that this was a unique opportunity, but he would surely get other offers like that.
“I think that Villas-Boas is doing well at Chelsea. The only thing that could make him leave Chelsea will be the team’s failure to qualify for the Champions League.
It’s not all bad news for Villas-Boas though, his former employer believes he would be ideally equipped to succeed Claudio Ranieri at Inter.
“If he were to leave Chelsea, I am sure he will become the next coach at Inter. He has the right personality to coach the Nerazzurri. In the past, I said the same thing about Mourinho.”
Whether Villas-Boas would be willing to exchange one mess of somebody else’s making for another, remains to be seen.
Goal of the day
An unstoppable effort from the edge of the area by Ruben Pardo helped Real Sociedad to a 2-0 victory over Sevilla.
Quote of the day
“He wants to play in a club battling for league titles, but he also wants his final project to give him a chance to give something back to society.”
Agent Walid Bouzid, on the career options for his client, Freddie Ljungberg, after the veteran’s midfielder’s contract was terminated by Japan’s Shimizu S-Pulse.
He’s all heart is Ljungberg.
Van Basten back
Dutch legend Marco van Basten will make a return to management in the summer when he takes over as coach at Eredivisie side Heerenveen.
Van Basten’s last management position was at Ajax, where he spent a year before departing in 2009, since when the former coach of the Dutch national side has been working as a pundit for Dutch television channel Sport 1.
The 48-year-old will replace current boss Ron Jans, who has chosen not to extend his deal when it expires at the end of the season.
News of Van Basten’s appointment was welcomed by striker Bas Dost, who said the arrival of the former striking legend might persuade him to stay at the club.
“This may become a reason to stay,” he told Voetbal International. “Though it is too early to say anything about the future, I should still think about it. Van Basten is undoubtedly an interesting name to work with. His arrival has also made me excited. For many players, he is a hero. I am also inspired by him.”
Former and current teammates of Arjen Robben have come to the defence of the Bayern Munich winger after he was described as an “egoist” by German legend Franz Beckenbauer.
“In his first few years at Bayern, Arjen played exactly the same way he is now, he just scored a few more goals,” Dutch international colleageu Rafael Van der Vaart told Bild.
“Now the ball isn’t flying into the net so often and Robben is seen in a negative light.
“They should let him play as he always has done, or they will be robbed of his class.”
And Schalke’s ex-Germany defender Christoph Metzelder, who played with Robben at Real Madrid, also defended the Dutchman.
“Of course he’s a special player who is looking for a lot of one-on-one situations and has a little extra class,” said the defender.
“I got to know him as a very affable man, but of course, he is very ambitious – but this is not a negative character trait.”