April 10th, 2012
04:19 PM ET

What future for bad boy Balotelli?

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, left, has finally lost patience with Mario Balotelli. (Getty Images)
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, left, has finally lost patience with Mario Balotelli. (Getty Images)

Why always me? That was the message revealed by Mario Balotelli on his t-shirt when he scored in Manchester City’s 6-1 win at Old Trafford back in October. A lot has changed since that game, which seemed to herald a real power swing in the English Premier League, but that moment helps explain a lot of what has happened to the young Italian striker and his club during the business end of this season.

City's hopes of a first league title since 1968 have crumbled well before Manchester United get the chance to avenge that embarrassing defeat later this month, and at the same time the career of one of soccer's most promising talents is hanging in the balance.

Instead of being hailed for his goals and undoubted skills, the 21-year-old is best known for his onfield petulance and a series of high-profile off-field incidents which can only be a huge embarrassment to City's Abu Dhabi owners.

Whether it is for setting off fireworks in his house and destroying his bathroom, telling police he carries a lot of cash because he is rich, crashing his luxury car, or admitting to dating an escort, Balotelli's personal life can be compared to a bad comedy series. And now his professional future is at stake.

Having been told he is no longer part of his manager's plans for the rest of this season after being sent off yet again in a crucial game at the weekend, Balotelli also faces the real possibility that he may not be selected in Italy's squad for the Euro 2012 finals starting in June.

I must admit I have never been a big fan of Balotelli. I watched him break into the Inter Milan side as a teenager four years ago, and always thought he had a lot of talent - but his attitude constantly let him down. Mario seemed more preoccupied with what was happening in his world than what was going on around him, and he made more headlines off the pitch than on it in Italy.

The proof of his unreliable nature came when even Jose Mourinho, known as one of the best motivators in the world of football, failed to get the best out of him at Inter and decided to use the striker only sporadically during his treble-winning season at the San Siro.

So it is no surprise what has happened with "Super Mario" in Manchester over the last couple of months, as he has failed to change his ways since moving to England in August 2010. Even though he has scored 17 goals from 31 appearances this season, his antics off the pitch have always merited more column space than his performances on it.

Granted, a lot of journalists pick on Balotelli, but he definitely brings a lot of grief upon himself. 

As well as his off-field behavior, which also includes giving money to strangers and gatecrashing a press conference unveiling Inter's latest manager, there have been various clashes with teammates on the training ground and in the dressing room.

You really have to wonder what he is thinking most of the time. If you are, then the answer is simple. All you have to do is to refer to the message on his t-shirt – he is thinking of himself.

Which leads me to the role of Roberto Mancini in the player's troubles. Mancini gave Balotelli his senior debut at Inter at the age of 17, and gave him a fresh chance at City. However, if you know you have a volatile player in your side, someone who is a negative influence on team spirit, why do you persist with him?

Following Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal, which all but ended City's title hopes and featured Balotelli's third red card this season, the manager said he was finished with his forward – but why did he give him so many chances?

Surely his preferential treatment of Balotelli irritated his teammates and only hurt City’s performances. You could actually tell from the players’ reactions to his sending-off that they have had enough of his antics. Why it took so long for Mancini to reach his limit, I will never know.

So what is going to change? To be honest, I am not sure it matters right now. Manchester City must come to terms with the fact that they are going to finish this season empty-handed even though they have by far the strongest - and most expensive - squad in England this season.

When the summer comes around, there is only one way forward. Sell Balotelli and sack Mancini. Bring in Mourinho and start a new project. One that won’t be tainted by idiotic antics and poor managerial decisions.

Regarding Balotelli, if he does leave City the question surely has to be, who will take him? He may have burned one too many bridges.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Amando

    Common Pedro U r being too unfair to the young man he is not that Bad. I feel it's all raciest. I black Italian. struggle so much to be called to the Italian squad.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  2. Zlatni Retriver

    Balotelli spent all credits he had. Shame for his talent

    April 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Reply
  3. uzomadike

    mancity lost the game because of the absence of kolo toure and the inclusion of sergio aguero who is not yet match fit .

    arsenal controlled the midfield throughout the game.the game has already been lost before balotelli got the red card.

    cut the guy some slack he has won many games for city. if i am a coach i will take him right now

    April 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  4. Rasaq Seriki

    Believe me guys he is a fantastic footballer i would suggest that he probablly needs someone in his life to manage everything he got from talent,skill,finances,attitude and wellbeing.The fame is bigger than him the guy is one of the best strikers in the world, he realizes that 100% is even more confidence is scoring goals in every single matches but he forgot that football is more than that ones has to realize we're all mate and colligues whillst on pitch though one can little bit naughty if things goes against their whishes. Never forget football is entertainment that is why you are roll-model to many fans both teenagers and adults.l would advise him to allow his skill to show the world what is up-to rather than bigmanism... i wish you well and brillant successful in your chosen career.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  5. L0wTax

    This has nothing at all to do with race. It has everything to do with ALL of the issues he had off the pitch, and on. They only time he should any effort or desire to play against Arsenal was when he was making wildly reckless tackles.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  6. Killian Donnellan

    Good article Pedro, I wish you would write for a newspaper also, but on this topic, Balotelli has to go, he is too much of a liability and Mancini should take responsibility for buying him in the first place. If Mancini is sacked, Balotelli is definitely finished at Man City, because Mourinho I think will be manager and he won't tolerate Balotelli at Man City, because Balotelli gave Mourinho a massive headache at Inter Milan

    April 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  7. O'dog

    MLS

    April 10, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  8. Ochora Stephen

    Balotelli is a hard working player just like Schole and Vidic of united dismised several times in big games and so when a player makes a mistake that should not over wheigth the general performance. we saw Balotelli scoring two goals against united and taking a penalty against Totenham and every body was happy despite his unsmiling nature.
    let go Mancini and Balotelli and Bring in Mourinho in the hope of seing a real change in city but be reminded that the like of Teveg, Aguero,Silva, Yaha may be likely to go in view of Mourinho intead of Balotelli because he is much concern of general performance than mistakes

    April 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  9. alehandro

    Whether Balotelli is a tortured genius or a deluded lunatic it's far too convenient to make him the scapegoat or catalyst for City's impending title failure. He's a forward, not a defender like Kompany or a midfield creator like Silva, and as a finisher not a starter of things he is not part of the team's foundation but merely among those who share responsibility for icing the cake. For that reason I don't think his inclusion or exclusion from the team has been fundamental to City's performances, nor do I think his team-mates suffered a dip in morale due to Mancini persisting with him. In this day and age it's all too easy to get a couple of yellow cards, especially when you're naturally a bit reckless and your reputation goes before you. Clearly Mario is explosive, but, like him or loathe him, his fellow pros will have recognized that combustible can also mean great! And if a chance existed that the blast would manifest itself as a barrage of goals and match-winning performances then Mancini was entitled to play the odds. OK, he lost, but hindsight is 20-20.

    So, to my mind, the root of City's slide lies elsewhere and not in the antics of not-so-super Mario. Kompany and Lescott's injuries; Yaya Toure's trip to the Nations Cup; Silva running out of gas in the second half of the season; Nasri failing to ignite; Dzeko and Aguero going MIA; the Tevez affair. All these factors made more impact than Mario's moodiness, along with a few peculiar moves and comments from Mancini who sometimes comes across as barking mad as Balotelli. All that being said, I definitely think the owners should give Mancini and maybe even Balotelli and Tevez another season. There has been so much change at City in the past few years that there's been little opportunity to learn from the experience. So, contrary to Mr. Pinto's "rip it up and start again" policy, I believe it would be crazy to risk another change of regime and playing personnel. That would take the team back to the start of the learning curve without having the chance to apply the knowledge acquired over the last campaign or two.

    So Mourinho can wait. If necessary, he can always be enticed later for the right price. And besides, I have a feeling his heart is set on succeeding Fergie at United in the next couple of years so I don't believe he'd compromise his chances of getting that job by managing City or Liverpool (should there be a vacancy at Anfield this summer.)

    Clearly, there's no doubt City have come up short this season but it's no time to panic. The BPL and CL titles are bought and paid for with hard work and experience not with dollars. Dynasties take time to build. Players mature and learn to modify their self-destructive tendencies to let their talent shine (look at Wayne Rooney). So while City will be eclipsed by United this season, with patience, the blue moon could certainly resume its rise very soon.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Reply
  10. Irving

    The Gunners could use him BUT we don't want him. He is good but he is not bigger than the game. These Bad Boys even Rooney need to be put on the bench sometimes without pay. This is a team, don't like it go play Golf or Tennis, Run, Swim those sports you must shine everytime you go out. Ask, Phil and Tiger.

    April 11, 2012 at 1:46 am | Reply
  11. Hvala

    Too harsh on the kid and mancini, Mr. pedro

    April 11, 2012 at 2:43 am | Reply
  12. otaktakcenter

    Mario colorful personality and antics have become a lightning rod for Soccer commentators and sports media to condemn, criticise and castigate this fine footballer. He has been used by his teammates for their collective failure to handle the pressures of the BPL final weeks run-in, team mates who are quick to put the blame game on Mario, a player who have consistently delivered the goals (for fun – last count 17!) to put the team where it is today – up there at the top!

    Those who are critical of him (some of them were once top players themselves) have memory lapses and dementia...and how they easily forgot the most cardinal principle of a team game, that the winning and losing matches is not the responsibility just one man...it shouldn't have fallen on the shoulders of ONE man..... but the team. Not Mario alone!

    Mario is an effervescent character and hugely talented footballer. This is reflected in his attitude on the field. Shackle him and you will choke his talent and his contribution. He is a goal scorer... as unpredictable as he may be on and off the pitch....he worked hard and delivered the 'goods' when on the going gets tough. He can be ineffective for the most part but he need only a moment of brillance to surprise opposing defenders and scored! That is Mario's magic! Why do we hang such a good footballer?

    Same cannot be said of City overpaid high profile defenders (these are his most vocal teammates who have relentless in their condemnation of Mario) who in the past six/seven matches have shown their innate ability to play NONSENSE defending. Same can be said of City's supposedly described world class midfielders and playmakers (except David Silva) forever lost in mountains of cash they earned each week Mario teammates are making excuses for their own bad performances!

    If you want to punish him for the bad tackles at emirate stadium, please do so, but we have no right to condemn or pass our judgement on Mario.. be goaded and play into the hands of his coach and teammates who are desperate to find a 'cover' for their own sub-standard contributions which resulted in a bad loss and bad series of results!

    Put simply...Mario wears his heart on his sleeve. His teammates can emulate Mario by putting in the same amount of dedication, passion and talent when they are on the field with that City shirt!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:03 am | Reply
  13. Jordan

    why do some of us want to play the 'race card' even where it's uncalled for? Balotelli needs to put his act together. It is as simlpe as that. His actions are costly to the team. We can't blame him for City's decline but he has made some bad decisions in crucial matches that add up to the team's woes. Let him get help or he will be playing for non team. Pedro's comments are not racial and those suggesting it have a problem. Mario is a bad boy-for now. He won't be the first to get help: remember Rooney when he joined ManU from Everton? Compare him to now. Therapy works.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:34 am | Reply
  14. Aaron

    Well said Mr. Alehandro........even though I'm an Arsenal fan, I believe Mancini and Balotelli should be given at least one more season to prove a point...........

    April 11, 2012 at 8:29 am | Reply
  15. Horacio

    Aaron I understand why you think Mario and Mancini should be given another chance. Means Arsenal have a better chance of finishing abead of them! :-)

    April 11, 2012 at 9:47 am | Reply
  16. Feya Feya

    if the lad is truly 21 then he is still young to manage the fame and wealthy...he needs better guidance than mancini

    April 11, 2012 at 10:23 am | Reply
  17. Austin Inyang

    Attitude – not just talent – determines altitude. The world is full of talented failures. The moment a star lets his fame & wealth get to his head, especially at only 21, he's finished. Mario is undoubtedly one of the best strikers in the world. But he needs to get real. Messi is by far the bigger player, and yet we never see any of this 'I'm so rich' 'Look at me' attitude from him. As for those contributors who see racism in the boy's saga, shame on you. Why do we blacks always want to carry the toga of victimhood every time one of us is challenged in the white man's world? I'm a Nigerian, and I see in Mario Balotelli's behavior the same reasons why my country's national team is doing so poorly today, compared to the likes of Ghana, Cameroon, Egypt, Cote d'Ivoire, etc. Our players, immediately, they begin to earn big money in the European leagues, simply lose the hunger to excel and begin to live the celeb lifestyle – even on the field of play. A decade or so ago, John Obi Mikel and Lionel Messi were at par. Or almost at par. But today a huge chasm exists between them. While Messi remains humble and hungry for more success with his team, Mikel is a demigod whenever he is in Nigeria. And yet his income is nowhere near that of Messi. Balotelli should learn from those great talents who fell by the wayside because of their irresponsible attitude.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:09 am | Reply
  18. Eugene

    One thing is clear (to be as fair to Balotelli as possible, and concede him every benefit of the argument that i can think of). There is something very deliberate in his thought process, which comes out in his fairly consistent antics. There's a pattern, and that makes me think there is a personal context in his life, interfering with his football life, that is definitely getting in the way of him fully flourishing. The trend seems to be showing now, however, that whatever is at the root of his behavior, is isn't exactly easy to fix...

    April 12, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  19. Deen

    All mario balotelli needs is a therapist. He has football qualities that all team would want him to play for them, but a coach never only consider how good you are on the pitch, but also your behaviours off the pitch. English football never tolerate sily behaviours from players. So he needs to be self decipline if he wants to survive in his career.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:32 am | Reply
  20. Adams Amantama

    Balotelli !!!! the Africa spirit of pride is still in him i guess he should CHANGE if he want to make more than what he has made in football.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  21. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Mario is young. He is growing. He will be fine. Wishing the young Italian striker all the very best on and off the field.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  22. elocho swedi

    not all Africans have that spirit of pride as for Balotelli, he must only change and make Black-Italians proud.

    April 14, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
  23. Archie Plinger

    "Sell Balotelli and sack Mancini. Bring in Mourinho and start a new project". What Pinto is really saying in his usual biased way is: "Sell an Italian and sack another Italian. Bring in a Portugese and start a new project". Well Mr Pinto after telling us all that Chelsea should never have sacked a Portugese look how well they have done under an Italian. I don't know why anyone bothers to read your biased nonsense.

    April 16, 2012 at 11:45 am | Reply
  24. jjdoublej

    Balotelli is won of the bigger A-holes i have ever seen in professional sports...period. I wouldnt want him on my team.....he has to be babysat the entire time.

    April 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  25. jjdoublej

    he does need therapy...thats for sure...

    April 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Reply
  26. Señor Futbol

    Pedro you have it all wrong, if I was Ballotelli's coach, just as Mancini is, I would do just what Mancini does... Include Ballotelli in the starting team because he can make a difference in any game... I rather have a player that can be productive and who may contribute to the team; than having a player that I doubt he would... Mancini keeps his faith on Ballotelli for the simple reason that he doesn't trust the other players, how hard is that to understand? ... The problem is that there's many racists players in the team, and when they solve that problem, then The City will have more chances of winning the Premier League... On the other hand, you're wrong again when you say that Manchester City has the most experienced players; when the reality is that the team with more experienced players is Manchester United... Pinto... Get another profession, you're wrong!

    April 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  27. ozy

    One can tell that Pedro has never liked Mancini. The season is not yet over, Man City can still win the league.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  28. Manchester United Fan

    You can not blame Man City's slide on one man. there are 10 other guys with him on the pitch. I also believe that he needs someone in his life to mentor him. Mario needs, like in the movie Bull Durham, a man to step in and show him the way outside of the game. Mario is a great player and will continue to shine.

    April 19, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  29. Manchester United Fan

    I am sick and tired of the race card being used for everything. Just because your boss might not like you doesn't mean he is racists. In the case of Mancini he needs to show Management that they spent their money wisely.

    April 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Reply
  30. alex

    balotelli is the one of special player in the world with in this stage , if his manager is take by good approach or through peace fully it is good for his team,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    April 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  31. Antero

    haha yes! Send him to MLS

    April 22, 2012 at 8:21 am | Reply
  32. markdbiram2011

    someone will always take a player like balotelli. he is clearly a risk though. if he doesn't manage to stay right at the top of the game it'll be a criminal waste of talent, but that's up to balotelli. i just hope he sorts his life out.

    April 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Reply
  33. ayat

    i agree with u coach that guy is a very bad boy so he has to be punished

    April 24, 2012 at 11:14 am | Reply
  34. Benjamin Likute Bauma

    As player Balotteli needs to be effective and efficient in the field and He is.

    On the other hand the team manager of City must show his managerial talents by managing the team and the players.

    As for those who want to play race card, remember soccer is the only place which has shown that the criterium to be selected is talent and not the colour of skin

    April 25, 2012 at 7:43 am | Reply
  35. Acaye Phillip

    The only thing with Balotteli is that, he lacks teamwork and respect for others. He's too violent and i think he was brought up in a very bad way. It is very embarrassing to be talking bad things about you all the time. He's not fit to be in England

    May 3, 2012 at 9:05 am | Reply
  36. Shiroz

    He's talent !! As if England players don't do stupid stuff !! everyone does and he's just 21years and theres plenty of time for him to learn and be what he really should be !! He's a little bit different and should be given proper attention and make you use of such talent !! And don't be so racist guys !!

    May 5, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  37. claudio

    If Manchester City win the premiership I hope they will keep Mancini & Balotelli...but CNN should fire Pedro instead :-).

    I'm sure that Pedro would easily find a job as a sports journalist many of whom just love to denigrate managers and players....especially when the teams are having a difficult moment.

    In my opinion Mario has many personal problems starting with the fact that he is an adopted child who was apparently abandoned by his family. Now that he is rich and famous he probably tends to attract the wrong type of people who are only after his money. Furthermore many journalists appear to be taking advantage of the situation...for their own selfish headline needs.

    I just hope that Mario is able to find the way to survive this period and become more mature .....and not burn out like some other famous sportmen e.g. George Best etc.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  38. foday bundu

    some people grow as an adult,but yet still they are a chile ,so is Ballotele.I think they need to give him some chances,he will surely grow to maturity.

    May 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  39. Udokamma

    what say you now Pedro?......hahahahahahaha

    May 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Reply
  40. kingsley ajabo

    i still think pedro pinto was right on balitoli and mancini. non of us will believe man u will trow away 8p in 4 weeks.. but i will like to see balitoli and mancini in man city next season, i really think they will lean from this..
    pedro is still one of the best sport men in the business. but he is wrong about chelsea ex couch avb, he got his his game wrong in chelsea. sacking him at chelsea ,is the best thing that has happened to chelsea

    May 16, 2012 at 1:01 am | Reply

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