By Jesse Fink
Carlos Tevez suing Roberto Mancini for defamation? It's like Adolf Hitler suing Fiorello LaGuardia for being called a "perverted maniac". Preposterous. But that's what Benchgate has become. Utterly ridiculous.
Tevez has been fined a month's wages (about £1million) by a Manchester City tribunal and found guilty on a handful of charges relating to what Graham Wallace, City's chief operating officer, described as the Argentinean's pointed refusal "to carry out instructions given to you by Mancini and [City fitness coach] Ivan Carminati to resume warming up with a view to playing in the match" against Bayern Munich last month in the Champions League.
The crucial plank in any action is that City's statement quantifies what Tevez has maintained all along: that he refused to warm up when directed to by Mancini, not to come on. The language used by Wallace certainly could have been stronger, but there weren't enough witnesses to back Mancini's assertion that Tevez refused to take the field.
Indeed, City substitutes called before the tribunal backed Tevez's version of events.
For the record, Mancini said on September 27: "He refused to go in. He refused to come onto the pitch. He refused to warm up."
But it is splitting hairs and Tevez is, as I see it, still guilty as sin - after all, a manager has a right to demand any of his players warm up whenever he so wishes.
It is not disputed that Tevez said "Por que?" or "Why?" when he was asked to warm up. Tevez maintains he was ready to come on after already warming up throughout the match.
Whether he was is really beside the point. The issue is that he was given an instruction by his manager and didn't follow it, a direct violation of the "contractual obligations" as set out by City in their statement. Namely: "To undertake such other duties and to participate in such other activities as are consistent with the performance of the player's duties and as are reasonably required of him" and "to comply with and act in accordance with all lawful instructions of any authorised official of the club".
City clearly regard warming up and coming on as one and the same thing. They are indivisible. Which is why the words "with a view to playing in the match" are appended to the phrase "warming up".
When Mancini was ready to bring Tevez on, he was entitled to expect his player warmed up.
That he warmed up before that point in time is irrelevant. What is relevant is that he refused to warm up at the time he was required.
And, in my view, whatever the differing versions of events, that substantiates Mancini's original claim that Tevez refused to play.
Tevez would do well to take his punishment and get on with repairing his relationship with Mancini, not further straining it.
But humility, as we saw in Munich, has never been his strong point.