CARLOS TEVEZ may be the player who will forever be associated with Sheffield United being relegated in 2007 and Neil Warnock leaving the club he had supported since boyhood just a few days later.
But ahead of Warnock’s Leeds United taking on a Manchester City side likely to feature the Argentinian in the FA Cup fifth round tomorrow, the former Blades manager insists revenge is not on the menu.
Instead, Warnock has revealed that he and the City striker even shared a laugh about the saga that saw Tevez score the goals that kept West Ham United up at the Blades’ expense only for it to then be revealed he had been ineligible to play.
The Leeds chief said: “I don’t blame Tevez for what happened. In fact, we had a laugh when I last saw him. I said, ‘You cost me £1m’. And he understood my English. He laughed. In fact, I can see his face in my mind now.
“He knew what I was saying. His English isn’t great. But what I think he understood was the phrase ‘£1m’.”
West Ham were fined £5m by the Premier League for breaching rules governing third party ownership over Tevez. Crucially, though, the London club were not deducted any points – meaning Tevez’s winner at Manchester United on the final day coupled with the Blades losing to Wigan at home meant the Yorkshire club went down.
The Bramall Lane outfit successfully sued West Ham for £18.1m in compensation and the final £6m payment is due to be paid in July.
That, though, is of small comfort to Warnock, whose eight-year reign as manager ended just days after United’s relegation had been confirmed.
Warnock said: “I read in the Yorkshire Post earlier this week that Sheffield United will get their last payment at the end of this season. But I still haven’t got my staying up bonus.
“As I say, though, I don’t blame Tevez. And I think he’s a fabulous player. If I’d managed to get him at Sheffield United, then I would have been delighted with him that season.
“When you look back through your career, of course there are moments that grate with you. I don’t care what anyone says, but you do look back to those things from time to time.
“I don’t think it is the number one in my career. Not if I am honest. Others grate more than that one.”
Asked by the Yorkshire Post what could possibly grate more than the Tevez saga, Warnock replied: “I’m not telling you. You’ll have to read my book when it comes out in June. It will be interesting reading.”
Whether Warnock’s looming new tome to go with his 2007 autobiography Made in Sheffield will include Leeds claiming a fourth Premier League scalp of the season in the Cups remains to be seen.
The bookmakers certainly do not give United a chance against the Premier League champions, an away win in tomorrow’s 2pm tie being priced as high as 17-1 with one online provider.
Warnock, who as in all Cup ties this season will play Jamie Ashdown in goal, said: “I don’t think anyone’s done better than us (in the Cups).
“But this is by far the toughest one. They are champions, we are away from home and it is the only competition they have got left to win. It is difficult but we will enjoy it with no league points at stake.
“In many ways, the Cup runs we have had this season (Leeds reached the last eight of the Capital One Cup before losing 5-1 to Chelsea at Elland Road) has made our league form that bit more frustrating because it has shown what ability we have got.”
City trail rivals Manchester United by 12 points at the top of the Premier League and tomorrow’s tie will provide a fascinating contrast in the dugout as Warnock goes head-to-head with Roberto Mancini.
The Italian has spent all his managerial career at the top level, starting with Fiorentina and Lazio in Serie A before spending four years at Inter Milan. He is now in his fourth season at Eastlands after succeeding Mark Hughes in December, 2009.
Mancini’s record in domestic Cup competitions is impressive with his teams having reached at least the semi-final stage in each of the past 10 years.
In total, the City chief boasts four Coppa Italia successes along with the 2011 FA Cup that ended the blue half of Manchester’s 35-year wait for a major trophy.
Warnock is looking forward to pitting his wits against a manager with such an admirable record, though he also admits that a job swap between the pair would probably suit neither man.
The United chief said: “I don’t think I would be able to cope, if I am honest. I only had six months with the current Premier League players (at QPR) and I didn’t enjoy that at all.
“I wouldn’t like to have two teams in the same squad, meaning you have 11 or 12 players not in the team to deal with.
“Especially as most of them are world-class players who all think they should be in the team. And so do their agents. Good luck to him (Mancini) with that.
“I’d love to have the chance in the Premier League with a genuine bunch like I have here at Leeds. At QPR, we went up with that sort of squad and most of them are back in the team now.
“As for Mancini here, with all due respect, he seems to be a manager who needs funds to spend. He needs financial support, like (Jose) Mourinho. I couldn’t see them managing at Leeds or anywhere else in the current climate. That is the way they are.”
Stephen Warnock big-match interview: Page 3.