The crazy circus that is Mario Balotelli’s life may soon be reaching the end of its English chapter. After another red card against Arsenal that most spectators could see coming an hour earlier, Roberto Mancini hinted that his time at the club could be at an end – it certainly will be for the rest of the season.
The press pack assembled at Craven Cottage, to watch Fulham take on Chelsea, speculated as to whether his ban might be around the 9-match mark when also considering an earlier unpunished foul in the first half. As it happens, he has escapedAi??further punishment for that foul.Ai??However, aAi??player that was seen as a breath of fresh air, a character that the game needed, adored by City fans and rival fans alike, has seen his stock fade, to the point that even some Manchester City fans are thinking ‘enough is enough’.
The question is – will he still be a Manchester City player next season?
Reasons He Might Go
For many reasons, there at first seems little way back for the enigmatic and frustrating 21-year old. His disciplinary record is appalling, and shows little sign of getting better. His life is a headline writer’s dream, his every move reported with glee, false stories circulating on social media sites on an almost daily basis. Many in the English press have spent 24 hours debating whether Balotelli has cost City the title, a ridiculous statement expected from an industry that deals in hyperbole. Balotelli isn’t to blame for City’s poor away form – Yaya Toure’s absence for the African Cup of Nations, Manchester United’s relentless form, or David Silva’s ankle injury that has seen his performance levels dip, are the main reasons why City are currently eight points behind United.
He is now a big distraction. A distraction that a team competing for honours can well do without. There are players doing worse tackles than Balotelli week-in, week out, but he will never get a moment’s peace again, whatever he does. His apparent surly demeanour has just fuelled the coverage, and sometimes it must be wondered when he starts a match which Balotelli will turn up this time. Off the field, and within the last week alone, his antics have made the front page of national newspapers in the UK twice. The stories didn’t justify such coverage, but that is the scrutiny he now lives under.
Sticking with Balotelli also means that Mancini runs the risk of alienating other members of the squad. Joe Hart’s angry response to Balotelli’s weekend red card hinted at the exasperation they may feel at his antics – this is all speculation, but would be understandable. Other players such as Emmanuel Adebayor and Craig Bellamy have been frozen out by Mancini at a moment’s notice – why should Balotelli be treated any differently?
Reasons For Him To Stay
Balotelli’s performances on the pitch have not hit the heights much of the time, though recently that could be said about mostAi??of the City squad. However, hisAi??goal returnAi??is superb, his “average minutes per goal” is up there with the best. But then he does take penalties as well, but takes them better than anyone else in the Premier League.
He is young of course. He clearly has the potential to be world-class, if he applies himself correctly. This is a player with time on his side, will surely, only improve.
It should also be noted that much of what is written about him is fabricated. Much of his treatment on the pitch has been a disgrace from referees, two of hisAi??red cards a result of nothing fouls (two thoroughly deserved it should be noted). It seems unfair that he should be driven out of the game for very little – he has been naive, he has been disinterested he has left his leg in on players, but despite all these – Ai?? he is not a monster (asAi??portrayedAi??by the media).
Within a day of his red card at The Emirates, he has officially apologisedAi?? to the team and especially to Mancini. If this apology is genuine rather than contrived to win back favour, then there is hope. He has to understand what is needed to succeed in the Premier League, and take steps to rectify his problematic image.
What Will The Future Hold For Super Mario?
The thought always returns: should he be given more time? To mature? To learn from Mancini, possibly the only man who could tame him. The problem for Mancini is that he has staked a lot of his reputation on sticking by Balotelli in the past and picking him ahead of the likes of Dzeko. It is a risk that has seriously backfired on him.
But with the gossip pages talking of possible summer exits for Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko, City cannot afford to offload three strikers in one summer. Five, if you include Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz. They will have to stick with some of what they already have. Balotelli will have his suitors, mostly from Italy, but a possible sale would probably mean City taking another loss on a transfer.
“Regarding my future, we will see at the end of the season. I will talk with the club and we’ll see” said Mario Balotelli this week. More will become clear when the dust has settled, and it may be best to give him another season to mature and succeed, presuming his manager is given the same choice. But for now, his future is up in the air.