Mancini, the winner in Tevez battle

By accepting an apology from Calos Tevez, the Manchester City manager has just landed a striker who was the side's leading scorer for the past two seasons, a man who knows the team inside out. A man whose energy and commitment when he is on a football pitch has never been in doubt. What's more, a player who will be desperate to show the world, as well as City's supporters, that he is not a perennial problem boy. By Frank Malley.

Roberto Mancini is a clever man. He could have insisted that Carlos Tevez would never play for Manchester City again, which is what he said following Tevez's refusal to warm up against Bayern Munich earlier this season.

He could have refused to accept Tevez's apology recently and pointed out that City, the Barclays English Premier League leaders, have not been doing too badly without the striker who went absent three months ago without permission.

Instead, Mancini said: “He has apologised, I do not have any problem.”

And with those nine words he just might have secured City's first EPL title and perhaps even a double with the Europa League also up for grabs.

Who would not want a fit and committed Tevez in their side as the season enters its frantic final third? A couple of weeks for Tevez to get match fit and Mancini, in effect, has landed the equivalent of a GBP40 million signing.

Actually, it's even better than that. He has just landed a striker who was City's leading scorer for the past two seasons, a man who knows the team inside out. A man whose energy and commitment when he is on a football pitch has never been in doubt. What's more, a player who will be desperate to show the world, as well as City's supporters, that he is not a perennial problem boy.

Let's not pretend that Tevez has seen the error of his ways. The fact is he had no choice but to say sorry. He had been touted around some of football's biggest clubs by his advisor Kia Joorabchian and none of them had bitten. None of them wanted to pay top dollar for a player who brings the baggage of potential disruption.

If Tevez had not made peace he could have been out of action for the best part of a year or even longer and for a 28-year-old fooballer there may have been no way back.

The apology, which also came with the withdrawal of Tevez's appeal to the EPL against the club's finding of gross misconduct, gives both sides a way out.

Tevez returns to football. Mancini, having exerted his authority and been backed by City's owners, can claim it is time for pragmatism.

Yes, it is an about-turn on the kneejerk reaction uttered in the red mist of an ugly altercation and there are those who would have preferred Mancini to stand by his pronouncement for the sake of football. For the sake of principles.

But football managers are there to manage, aren't they? To manage bust-ups and stand-offs and tricky situations in the best interests of the club.

The cynics would say Mancini would not have given a second chance to a less-talented player and doubtless they are right. After all, his ruthlessness was demonstrated in the way he froze out Wayne Bridge and Craig Bellamy.

The simple fact, however, is that Mancini gauges Tevez to be more valuable. A potentially key component of the title run-in. With the club still battling for two major trophies he wanted four top strikers and in Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli and Tevez no one could deny he does not possess them.

The one imponderable now is how the City supporters will respond to the return of a player who effectively walked out on them.

One guess is that, reluctantly, they will take their lead from Mancini. As long as Tevez buckles down and backs his apology with goals, they will forgive. But they will never forget.

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Arsenal have not won a trophy for seven years because Arsene Wenger has not been given the financial clout of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. That is the bottom line.

True, the Gunners recent form has been dreadful and some of Wenger's signings have not worked. It is easy to see why the patience of the increasingly critical Arsenal fans is wearing thin.

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Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell is the one surprise but defender Micah Richards of Manchester City is the most welcome face in Stuart Pearce's England squad.

The athletic Richards, for some reason, just did not float Fabio Capello's boat. He deserved another chance. Well done Pearce for recognising that.

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Sir Alex Ferguson admits he has mellowed but demonstrated no diminished enthusiasm for football in an interview with Radio Five Live recently. He reckons at 70 he has another two or three years in him as boss at Manchester United.

What's the betting that in two more years he pronounces he has another two or three years in him?

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