Early Doors

All apologies

Early Doors

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Carlos Tevez made one of the few nice gestures left in football at Eastlands last night.

After scoring just five minutes into the 3-1 win over West Ham, he did not celebrate wildly, instead holding up his hands in apology to his former fans.

The gesture stood out in a time when even kicking the ball out of play so an opponent can receive medical attention is done so with contempt.

Tevez's fight against the adrenaline rush that usually sees him gallop down the pitch like a bulldog on heat upon scoring was helped by the fact his opener was the simplest of tap-ins.

The Argentine was even more charitable afterwards when he missed a string of good chances before heading home his second on the hour.

To think, this is the same player who was booed by Manchester United fans the previous week for having the temerity to not be bought by them. Even two league titles and a European Cup isn't enough to forgive someone moving across town.

Plenty is being made of how Tevez chose to celebrate against his former club in contrast to his team-mate, Emmanuel Adebayor, who celebrated scoring against his erstwhile employers Arsenal by sprinting up the pitch to the away end.

Adebayor felt he had a beef to settle with Arsenal fans who felt rightly aggrieved with a series of performances in his final year at the club that were not so much phoned in as diverted straight to voicemail.

Such behaviour made it even easier for Tevez to revel in his golden boy status and come off looking like an angel for what is essentially a basic display of good manners.

In fact, Adebayor's Gunner-goading has laid down a nice, easy benchmark against which most other player's indiscretions will be viewed favourably for the rest of the season. 

The Togolese now looks revitalised at City (or rather he did, before his ban for that celebration and expected suspension for raking Robin van Persie's face), and he's not the only one.

Stephen Ireland's out? No problem, here comes a resurgent Martin Petrov to cause havoc on the wings. Need another striker? Don't sweat it, we've just found Roque Santa Cruz down the back of the sofa.

With every passing match, more and more of the snobs who refused to take City seriously are having to face up to the fact that they could become a real prospect this season.

Sol Campbell said following after walking out on Notts County last week:  "...you know when people have money because things happen quickly."

Few could have expected things to happen quite so quickly for City.

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By Thursday, we will already be a third of the way through the Champions League group stages. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun?

The post-qualifying, pre-knockout phase may be universally recognised as a snoozefest these days, but this evening brings possibly the most enticing clutch of fixtures as far as British clubs are concerned.

Liverpool travel to Tuscany to face a Fiorentina side currently sitting fourth in Serie A, Rangers host La Liga's third-placed team Sevilla and Arsenal play hosts to, er, Olympiacos. That was going so well too.

That last match now lacks the one intriguing prospect it promised - former Blackburn striker Matt Derbyshire is set to miss out with a groin strain, meaning that once again there won't be a single Englishman starting at The Emirates.

One of the few Brits plying their trade abroad, the former England U21 international made his mark on his first season in the Super League, scoring five goals in just seven league matches and netting twice in the Greek Cup final, which Olympiacos went on to win 15-14 on penalties. That's right - 15 (fifteen)-14 (fourteen).

Derbyshire has described the feverish qualification hopes placed upon his team as "ridiculous", but in a group that also includes AZ Alkmaar and Standard Liege they have a great chance.  

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Yes, it was a big gamble. When I think retrospectively, that is the biggest surprise to me.  At that time what Arsenal did you needed to be a little bit crazy. Crazy in the sense that I had no name, I was foreign, there was no history. They needed to be brave" - Arsene Wenger believes that Arsenal were 'crazy' to give him a job back in 1996. Not so crazy when you consider his three immediate predecessors were Pat Rice, Stewart Houston and Bruce Rioch.

FOREIGN VIEW: "I can't reveal my vote. It's secret. But what I can say is that Rio's candidacy has great international appeal" - FIFA chief Sepp Blatter keeps his cards close to his chest as to which way he will cast his vote for the 2016 Olympic host city on Friday. No prizes for guessing where he was when he said it.

COMING UP: We'll be bringing you LIVE comments of every Champions League match this evening from around 19:30, including Arsenal v Olympiacos, Fiorentina v Liverpool and Rangers v Sevilla.

There is also comprehensive LIVE scoring of the action in the Championship, League One and League Two, as Roy Keane's struggling Ipswich travel to Brammall Lane in search of their first win of the season.

And, for the patriots among you, you can also follow the progress of England's U20s as they take on Ghana at 20:30.

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