Tevez's agent hits back at 'absolutely wrong' Neville criticism

Gary Neville and Carlos Tevez were Manchester United teammates in 2009 Source: Getty Images

Gary Neville has admitted he may have been "a little bit crass" when claiming Carlos Tevez "downed tools" in the final months of the Argentinian's Manchester United career.

Former United defender Neville made the accusation earlier this week, sparking a stinging riposte from Tevez's representative Kia Joorabchian.

Neville stands by the crux of his argument, which was that Tevez's contribution and his engagement dropped off towards the end of the 2008-09 season.

But his comments were challenged in a lively head-to-head with Joorabchian on Sky Sports News, causing Neville to accept his verdict could have been better put.

"What I would say is, 'down tools' might be a little bit crass," Neville said on Friday.

"But Carlos was distracted, he was different, and he certainly wasn't anywhere near the level in that last four months at the club, you must accept that?"

Joorabchian said Neville had been "absolutely wrong" with his initial assessment.

"I often let things go," Joorabchian said. "But I think that when you go after somebody and you have made a lot of wrong and incorrect statements, then by letting it go will not do the benefit to the public of listening to fake information."

Joorabchian questioned how Neville - now a Sky Sports pundit - had gained such insight that he could possibly know, as he had claimed, that Tevez had people "in his ear" during his second year at Old Trafford.

And broadening his defence of Tevez, Joorabchian asked whether Neville was casting aspersions on former United boss Alex Ferguson's leadership.

"By Gary making those comments of the second year, he's in some way questioning whether Sir Alex had his finger to the pulse," Joorabchian said.

"Because Sir Alex picked Carlos 51 times during that season of 2008-2009 - 51 times. He picked [Wayne] Rooney 49 times, [Dimitar] Berbatov 44 times, and Gary himself only played 29 in that season.

"In those moments Carlos played 51 games picked by Sir Alex: 15 goals, seven assists. Berbatov: 14 goals, 11 assists. And Rooney: 20 goals, 13 assists.

"Sir Alex would not have picked someone 51 times during that season, as Gary well knows, if they were down-tooling or being unprofessional, unless Gary thinks that Sir Alex took his eye off the ball."

Neville was given the chance to justify his remarks and largely stayed true to his original script, saying there was "no doubt" Tevez lost focus when it became known he would be leaving United.

At the end of that 2008-09 campaign, Tevez made the rare switch of leaving United to join neighbours Manchester City.

Neville said Tevez at United "went into more of a sulky mood because he was disappointed the club weren't signing him", and produced his own statistics, looking at Tevez's modest Premier League contribution.

According to Neville: "The drop in his manner and his performances - just because maybe he was not being taken on by the club - was alarming."

Source Omnisport