Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Idiotic 'Problem' That is, Mario Balotelli

One can perhaps imagine Mario Balotelli sitting in his Manchester home before the start of the season, dusting off a box of fireworks, sharpening his studs and passionately massaging his ego in anticipation for a year of drama, controversy and probably most important to him; attention. It would be the construction of a plan that would see him plastered quite frequently on the back and occasionally the front of newspapers, as the centre of some sort of incident which the media and public crave from such a character.

This sort of plan would, however, require a great deal of thinking, and it seems that throughout this season, using his brain to think for a moment about the consequences of many of his actions has not been something high on the young Italians list of priorities. Instead, his unwavering arrogance and his ignorant detachment from emotion or care for the welfare of himself or Manchester City have lead them both down a road of imminent failure in a season filled with so much promise.

Of course, City's demise and dip in form which has seen them go from comfortable leaders in the Premier League title race to wilting challengers of an eight point gap which Manchester United now hold at the summit, cannot all be blamed on Balotelli. This is down to any number of factors, perhaps including the inability to maintain the scintillating form which enabled them to leap so far ahead of the pack in the first place, as well as the consistency and determination of their rivals to relent in keeping an incredibly hard fought battle to retain their title alive.

However, the numerous occasions in which attention has been diverted from the title chase onto Balotelli off the field and on it, has certainly caused problems among the City camp. It is clear to see firstly, that his behaviour which so often and innately rebels against the authority (his manager) undermines the control Mancini has at City and also hammers away at the respect (or lack of it) which other players are then allowed to show for the manager.

His erratic behaviour - most explicitly on the field of play also reveals the frustrations his fellow team-mates have for him and his needlessly over the top ways. When Balotelli lunged into a tackle and was deservedly shown a second yellow card against Arsenal on Sunday (despite already committing an unpunished but horrendous challenge on Alex Song, deserving of a straight red earlier) it was clear to see City's Joe Hart turn away in anger at the stupidity of such an action, with the word "stupid" mouthed by the goalkeeper.

City's slim but hopeful chances of squeezing a point out of that game which had been all but ended by a fantastic strike from Arsenal's Mikel Arteta were dashed by Balotelli's mindless idiocy, and in truth the outcome of his game had been brewing for much of the match.

The 21 year-old seems to believe that he can do everything wrong but not be found guilty for anything, thus giving him licence for all sorts of recklessness which on numerous occasions this season could have ended a players career. (Alex Song; Scott Parker). It is this attitude which has derailed City's title ambitions to some degree and created a laughing stock of City who seemed at one stage of the season to be in complete control of the title.

He has scored a very impressive 17 goals this season for the club which spent around £20 million on his two years ago, and when things have been going well has often impacted well on the team. However, it is when the side have not been playing well; at the most crucial stage of a season in which he has not been of use at all. He has become a huge liability, capable of good things but apparently only when he feels like it but very capable of bad things for the most part of his time on a football pitch.

A big, controversial and mischievous character is often enjoyed by the media in England, and does well to entertain the public with humorous antiques delivered to us in the papers. However when you have an arrogant, dangerous character with no sense of what is acceptable and unacceptable, who does contemptible things more often than he does what he is actually paid to do, there is a real problem. Manchester City have a real problem. He is called Mario Balotelli.

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