Tevez's selfish act of rebellion
Carlos Tevez's Manchester City career has appeared to be at an end before. This time, amid acrimony and the rage of manager Roberto Mancini in Munich, and despite a denial this morning from the striker himself, it is.
Tevez's apparent refusal to come off the substitutes' bench at the Allianz Arena as City trailed 2-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League was a shameless rejection of his most basic responsibility as a professional footballer.
In exchange for a contract reportedly worth £250,000 a week, the very least City should expect from Tevez is an agreement to play for the team and their supporters when requested by the manager.
And yet, with City in trouble in a group game that may yet shape their Champions League ambitions, this proved beyond him. Mancini called on Tevez's services with 35 minutes still remaining, but said the Argentine was unwilling to respond.
Mancini said Tevez (centre) refused to come on as a substitute in Munich. Photo: Getty Images
Bayern were in control as City struggled in the club's most important European game for a generation - but Tevez is a game-changer and there was still time to change this game. Instead he chose to break what is effectively an unwritten law, and went on strike in the middle of a match.
Tevez may have claimed this morning that it was "a misunderstanding", while keeping his exact reasons to himself. But it was still a selfish act of rebellion that was an insult to his manager, team-mates and those fans who can only fantasise about the riches he has lavished on him.
Only last week City goalkeeper Joe Hart, one of the men Tevez refused to play alongside in Munich, said: "He's never disrespected the club in any kind of way or disrespected us as team-mates. He's got on with it."
Except that in Munich he did. And he didn't.
It was a valid suggestion. If Tevez thinks so little of his colleagues that he does not wish to play alongside them, then why should he sit beside them on the flight home?
It might also have left Tevez with some uncomfortable explaining to do had he found himself alongside any City supporters at the airport ticket desks.
Mancini was unequivocal in his condemnation. Tevez, said the Italian, is finished at Manchester City. There is no way back for the player who, although richly gifted, has also proved troublesome in the last 10 months.
In December last year he asked to leave and repeated the demand this summer. Tevez's reasons for wishing to quit Manchester have been something of a moveable feast ranging from homesickness, general unhappiness in Manchester, missing his family and a breakdown in relations with club executives.
And yet, apart from what was quickly revealed to be a wildly over-optimistic bid from Brazilian side Corinthians, no serious offers were received. This is where the problem now lies for City and Tevez.
The Munich incident means City will surely want Tevez off the premises in short order. It is hard to see Mancini wanting him anywhere near his first-team squad, even in training, but it will be January before any deal can be done.
No doubt we will soon hear from Tevez's ever-present representative Kia Joorabchian. He may now, however, find it even more difficult to conclude a very rich deal after his client's alleged insubordination in Munich.
Would any club - and there was hardly a long and orderly queue forming for his services before - wish to commit such huge sums on such a very obviously high-maintenance individual as Tevez?
In the harsh reality of reflection, Tevez may find an understanding of the scale and consequences of his actions. Or maybe not. Whatever his next step, he has run out of road at Manchester City. It is now simply a question of when and how he will go.
Of course, fingers have already been pointed at Mancini, and City's supposed willingness to foster a culture of ego in bringing a collection of highly paid players into the club in such a relatively small space of time but the club are blameless here.
City have behaved in an exemplary fashion towards Tevez. The club have been willing to work with him to try to solve his understandable misery at continued separation from his children. What happened in Munich was a step over any acceptable line. A refusal to play means you relinquish the right to sympathy.
Tevez is not going to be given away by City, no matter how many billions their Abu Dhabi owners have. Indeed, they are rich enough to let Tevez rot away from the main body of Mancini's squad and see who blinks first.
And what about City's supporters, who have continued to back Tevez despite the fickle nature of his affections in recent months? The game in Munich was the one ringed in red in their calendar.
This was their official return to the biggest European stage and yet those who may have scraped together the cash to go in hard times saw their journey scarred by Tevez.
In general terms it was also another damaging incident for football. Large sections of the public have little time for footballers, especially in these austere times when their riches seem out of kilter with the wider, harsher financial climate. Tevez's petulance is hardly designed to win back their favour.
The irony is that City have done rather nicely without Tevez already this season. Yes, they may have lost to Bayern but the Germans are in outstanding form and these early games were always going to contain an element of education for a team still learning in the Champions League.
Now Tevez has provided a sideshow City and Mancini can do without. They must find a quick solution on how to bring down the curtain.
When Tevez signed for City he was heralded with the infamous "Welcome To Manchester" billboard that so grated with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
As City's plane landed back in Manchester in the early hours, the sentiment was that anywhere except Manchester was now welcome to Carlos Tevez.