Ten months earlier, the forward’s relationship with the club had deteriorated
to the extent that he would not even respond to Roberto Mancini’s
instruction to step off the substitutes’ bench against Bayern Munich in the
It was a year ago on Thursday that Tévez appeared to have ended his turbulent City career by defying Mancini so pointedly in the Allianz Arena.
Mancini insisted Tévez was "finished" and would never play for the club again. The former Manchester United forward was condemned by supporters, former players and even his union, with PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor voicing his concerns over the player’s "self-destruct pattern".
Tévez would go on to claim that Mancini treated him "like a dog" and that they almost hit each other in the dressing room in a half-time row during the Premier League match against Newcastle in October 2010.
Yet 12 months after the events in Bavaria, the 28 year-old remains a City player. Those who observe him closely at the club, on a daily basis, speak of a player who has never been more content and at ease in his surroundings.
Tévez's road to Damascus involved detours through Milan, Buenos Aires and the Valle Escondido golf club, but, as the Kuala Lumpur episode confirmed, the journey has changed him – not least physically. Tévez returned seven kilograms lighter this summer following intensive training during the close season.
“Since he returned to the club February, Carlos has really bought into the team ethos,” a City source said. “He hasn’t come back focusing on himself and he is now pulling his weight, on and off the pitch and everybody is benefiting.
“Credit where credit is due. Carlos has come back and made a real contribution to everything that has been asked of him.”
Tévez’s five-month stand-off with City was hugely damaging and expensive, however. Accumulated fines – £396,000 for his conduct in Munich and £1.2m for his unauthorised November trip to Buenos Aires – and the forfeit of wages and loyalty bonuses amounted to £9.3m.
Throughout the dispute, City’s Abu Dhabi hierarchy refused to allow Tévez to leave for less than their £27m valuation. There would be no deals or rebates to ease his passage out of the club.
AC Milan unsuccessfully tried to sign him, leaving Tévez with a choice between running down the final 2½ years of his contract on a Buenos Aires golf course or returning to City with an apology for Mancini.
Tévez was cajoled by City’s football administrator, Brian Marwood, Patrick Vieira, and Tévez's advisers. They said that the calming influence of John Macbeath, City’s interim chief executive at the time, was key to the eventual reconciliation.
It accelerated on Jan 30, when Tévez declined an opportunity to appeal the Premier League against his £1.2m fine. The apology to Mancini followed and, with both sides pointing to the Italian’s pragmatic approach as crucial to the rapprochement, a line was drawn under the dispute. Tévez was welcomed back into the fold.
“You can say what you want about Carlos Tévez, but when he plays, he plays to win and he plays for his team-mates.” City goalkeeper Joe Hart said. “There are far more important things in our lives than what went on. We have all moved on.”
The influence of Nigel de Jong, a powerful voice in the dressing-room prior to his move to AC Milan, ensured that Tévez did not encounter resistance from his team-mates. The Spanish-speaking contingent of Pablo Zabaleta, Sergio Agüero and David Silva also provided support.
From City's viewpoint, the apology to Mancini removed the final obstacle to Tévez' return. From the player’s perspective, a settled family life – his wife and children have returned to the north-west – was the foundation for his transformation.
“You cannot overestimate the importance Carlos places on being close to his family,” a source close to the player said. “It was a big issue for him when his kids were in Argentina, but they are now happily settled in schools in the north-west and it makes a huge difference to him.”
With his £198,000-a-week contract due to expire in June 2014, the next question is whether either party will look to extend the deal in the months ahead.
Having enjoyed a period of calm for the past six months, however, the reality is that both are happy to leave that issue at least for another day. But as the past year has proved, predicting the future for Tévez is anything but straightforward.