Not only was Carlos Tevez given the biggest cheer as he drifted off the Manchester City team bus to face Chelsea a few weeks ago, his manager also polished off a great evening’s hypocrisy by branding the player’s performance “incredible” after he set up Samir Nasri’s tasty winning goal. It was, sadly, pretty much all in a Premier League day’s work that Charlie Tee should return to the high life just months after hearing that his time at City would be “finished” if it was up to Roberto Mancini, having famously refused to come off the bench against Bayern Munich last October.
And the post-match roundups were a continuation on a celebratory theme. Tevez “turned things around” for City. His manager showed “great pragmatism” and “strong management” to look past his feud with the player and was rewarded for it with an important win in the battle for the Premier League title, supposedly. If the leading lights in football punditry, rifling through the filth served up on the evening, were good to hold back their favourite line: “he’s proven his critics wrong”, they were at least getting close to it – bottom-lips were trembling, fingers were lingering over buttons; just waiting for the first person to go for it so that everyone could.
Now that he’s scored a hatrick against Norwich and done a joke celebration, he might even have arrived back in time to win City a title. He’s going to be let off completely, isn’t he?
Like I said, no-one has gone for calling Tevez an against-the-odds hero in the end, and congratulations all round for that level of restraint. Nevertheless, there does seem to have been a bout of forgetfulness going around: I can find so few people who have remembered to take their moral indignation packs with them to Tevez Games. The line “nothing’s shocking in football anymore” penetrated the zeitgeist a while ago; but after this Tevez fun, can we say now that it’s having an even more profound effect? Has the football world started to take it as an instruction? The precedent’s in place from Tevez onwards: it might actually be that football is literally no longer allowed to shock you; you’re simply to keep calm and carry on applauding Carlos Tevez for being a good player however ludicrous the hypocrisy of seeing him playing again really should feel.
Acceptance could be the new indignation. Maybe it’s a brave new world; one for the realists, who see that we were always being silly picking out individual things to be appalled by when the whole thing is so ugly that anything said or done has to be an exercise in futility; or: “It’s the Premier League, duh”.
But then again, indignation isn’t just about pointing out wrong in the hope of changing anything. It’s satisfying in and of itself. Calling Carlos Tevez out as a greed-driven buffoon with the self-awareness of a curtain won’t change the world, but it can make you feel better about it. Pointing out over and over and over again to all of your family and friend(s) that his manager has just done the kind of u-turn which should have him heading the wrong way down the M6 doesn’t make them care, but my soul and surely others’ (though I’ve been wrong before) yearns to do it for its own sake.
What I’m saying is: I can’t see this venture in ignorance ending well. Ignoring the bits which are all wrong—this “moving on to live healthy and fulfilled lives” dogma which, conversely, makes me ache with anger—has to be bad news. Personally, I just don’t want to live in a world where people forgive and forget; I want pain and vengeance. Hypocrisy should be ridiculed, just as bad hair rightly is (Tevez, again). We should make a fuss over these things.
Not, you understand, because I don’t want people to be happy (of course I actually don’t, but I’m not going to admit to that here) but because this moving on business isn’t going to work out. Just because we can pretend that we’re fine with Carlos Tevez doesn’t make it so; it’s going to consume us eventually. In six months we’re all going to wake up in the middle of the day (except for the ‘I’ve got a job’ show offs) screaming about how ludicrous it is that his talent allowed him to bypass all of the usual rules of engagement. As my councillor—or as she insisted my ‘French teacher’—always said: “It’s about expression (and passive aggressive tutting), you fools”.
Indignation also works a little bit. If the few honourable souls who continue to boo Tevez—the committed pessimists with chips carved into their shoulders before they were cool—can inspire others to follow, they can make the nonsense of the situation difficult for those involved with it on the inside. Obviously an example of a success story would be nice here, but I can’t think of one off the top of my head; that, though, I’m relatively sure, doesn’t mean I’m wrong, only that it doesn’t happen often enough for me, not much of a news follower, to remember one. Find an example for yourself?
Okay, now you’ve done that, let’s agree that this “great pragmatism” in the face of Tevez’s being a new kind of berk won’t do. Grudges should be borne and he-definitely-didn’t-mean-it apologies should be binned, if only for all of our collective health. I’m leaving right now to tell more people about how mad it is that he’s ever been allowed to play for Manchester City again: please join me.