Manchester City's defeat at Bayern two years ago was the nadir of Roberto Mancini's European adventures. Will Manuel Pellegrini cope better against the German champions?
Carlos Tevez's forgettable night at Bayern Munich two years ago did not just feature his reluctance to warm up on the Allianz Arena touchline. Roberto Mancini's fury at the striker during Manchester City's Champions League encounter with the Bundesliga club was preceded by the manager's contretemps with Edin Dzeko. The Italian would also have to admit that his accusation that Pablo Zabaleta had offered vocal support of Tevez was wrong.
While all this offered a glimpse of the man-management problems that would ultimately contribute to Mancini losing his job, materially there was a 2-0 loss to Bayern that provided an augury of the club's travails against the continent's aristocrats: this would have City failing to progress from the competition's group stages in both that season and the last one.
City meet the Champions League holders on Wednesday evening, just over two years since that 27 September night when Mancini's band were defeated and the grip on his authority began to loosen.
Ahead would be turbulent times. A commanding lead in the championship would slide to an eight-point deficit to Manchester United with six games remaining before the final-day drama of Sergio Agüero's title-clinching goal. Mancini would engage in damaging turf wars with Joe Hart, Samir Nasri, Vincent Kompany, Mario Balotelli (including a training ground scuffle) and Micah Richards. City's title defence the following season was an insipid limp that allowed a modest Manchester United team to canter to a 20th crown by 11 points. And, after a shock 1-0 FA Cup final defeat to Wigan last May, Mancini would be sacked.
At the Allianz, City's fortunes unravelled in the closing seven minutes of the first half as Mario Gomez scored twice to send Mancini and his side into the break facing an almost impossible task. After 10 second-half minutes it became Sisyphean. First, Mancini was greeted with a Dzeko sulk at being replaced by Nigel de Jong that was a warm-up act for the main event of Tevez's wildcat action.
Mancini's decision prompted Dzeko to give him a sarcastic thumbs-up as he was pulled off before the pair traded words and the Bosnian threw his tracksuit top to the floor. On Dzeko, Mancini was blunt: "He played a bad game, a poor game. Next time, maybe if he plays better he can stay on the pitch. He needs to improve his behaviour."
Dzeko would hardly prove as recalcitrant as Tevez. When the latter was called upon by Mancini to enter for Nasri, he refused to move. Having twice asked for a transfer – a supposed move that summer to Corinthians fell through – and probably smarting from Agüero's recruitment as his replacement, Tevez's discontent had festered as he became used to life as reserve.
Immediately after the game Tevez denied any wrongdoing, saying: "I didn't feel right to play, so I didn't."
A livid Mancini offered his verdict on whether he would ever pick the player again: "No. If we want to improve like a team, like a squad, Carlos cannot play with us. With me, no – it is finished. It may not be my decision but if I'm deciding then, yes, he goes. For me, if a player earns a lot of money playing for Manchester City in the Champions League and he behaves like this – he cannot play again. Never. He has wanted to leave for the last two years. For two years I have helped him, and now he has refused to play. Never again."
By February, after a three-month sojourn in Argentina where Tevez was often seen on the golf course, he was back, apologising unreservedly to "everybody I have let down and to whom my actions over the last few months have caused offence".
Although not the single factor in Mancini's sacking the following year, the volatile Italian's handling of the fall-out was considered naïve by senior players and was added to the charge sheet against him by the Abu Dhabi hierarchy when they sought to remove him.
Two years on, the match-day squad from that fixture may not be noticeably different from the one Manuel Pellegrini chooses on Wednesday. Apart, that is, from two key actors: Mancini and Tevez. Each have now departed; and tonight is a chance for the club to show how far they have come since that miserable night in Bavaria in September 2011.