Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has told the club’s fans not to target Carlos Tevez with any abuse when the Argentinian forward returns to action.
Tevez has not played for City since boss Roberto Mancini accused him of refusing to warm up at Bayern Munich in September – but he has now apologized.
Balotelli said: “I think supporters have to be like they were before.
Carlos Tevez stand-off
- September 2011: Mancini accuses Tevez of refusing to come on as a substitute in the Champions League game against Bayern Munich
- October: Tevez reports back to City after a suspension but is ordered to train alone
- November: Tevez fails to report for training
- December: City stop paying Tevez’s wages – estimated at £200,000 a week – and fine him six weeks’ wages for gross misconduct over his refusal to return from Argentina
- February 2012: Tevez returns to City, apologises in a statement and withdraws his appeal against a fine for gross misconduct
“If they make pressure on Carlos, they make pressure to all the team, so they should do nothing.”
Tevez, 28, had become a firm favourite with the City faithful after helping the club win the FA Cup last season following a switch from rivals Manchester United.
But that soured with his apparent refusal to come off the bench at the Allianz Arena in Germany – and he then returned to his native Argentina without the club’s permission.
Following a five-month stand-off, Tevez returned to the club in February and has reconciled his differences after apologising for his conduct.
He returned to action in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Preston, then scored on his first public appearance for the reserves against Bolton.
Balotelli, speaking to former Oasis man Noel Gallagher for the BBC’s Football Focus, said supporters should forgive him.
The 21-year-old said: “I think everyone can make a mistake. Carlos is part of the team. He’s just a part of the team, so everybody loves him.”
Manager Robert Mancini says he has already forgiven Tevez and is looking forward to the striker’s return to first-team football.