How do you solve a problem like Mario Balotelli?

Oh Mario! You just can’t help yourself, can you? Just when we think that you couldn’t possible turn more of the footballing world against you, you go ahead and defy the odds once again.

How do you solve a problem like Mario Balotelli?

Posted by

Andy

August 1st, 2011

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Oh Mario! You just can’t help yourself, can you? Just when we think that you couldn’t possible turn more of the footballing world against you, you go ahead and defy the odds once again.

Not content with sulking himself out of the San Siro, single handily keeping Manchester’s traffic wardens in employment, driving into a woman’s prison in Brescia, throwing the odd dart in the vicinity of youth team players, struggling to understand the concept of a training bib and declaring an allergy to grass, Mario has once again found himself on the back pages.

This time, it is the City sulker’s dancing moves, or lack thereof, that have landed him in hot water. In Los Angeles, the land of glitz, glamour and showboating, Balotelli’s fluffed attempt to back-heel City into a 2-0 lead against LA Galaxy saw him instantly hauled off the field with mocking of 27,000 fans ringing in his ears.

Unsurprisingly, a toddler-eque tantrum followed and condemnation from teammates, commentators, fans and journalists all feature heavily in today’s papers. But how does Roberto Mancini actually deal with the problem?

The easy solution would seem to be to say “sling il gancio” (which we believe is Italian for “sling your hook”) and send Mario on the first easyjet flight back to Serie A. There are, however, a few stumbling blocks.

Number one not least is the fact that Mr Balotelli’s payslip will trigger an excess baggage charge when he rocks up at Manchester Airport – and one that few clubs would have either the ability or inclination to cough up for. As City have found out already under Sheikh Mansour’s reign, throwing sacks full of dirham at players is a great ploy when you want them in Manchester but it’s not so great when you want to see the back of them.

Complication number two is the situation with Carlos Tevez. With the only striker who looked like scoring goals last season trying to wangle a way back to South America, Mancini will need to keep his options open, even if said option is a petulant Italian striker who has a hugely inflated sense of his (admittedly substantial) talent or a £27m front man who has only shown an adeptness at scoring goals against League One teams and clubs in Lancashire than begin with the letter B.

In fact, is Balotelli a problem that needs to be solved? After all, we’re talking about Roberto Mancini here – a player hardly known for hoofing it into Row Z. Is Balotelli’s unpredictability and attitude something that needs to be tolerated or even harnessed because it, quite simply, makes him the talent that he is? After all, the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba all have the ability to come across as pretty undesirable, but can you argue with their records?

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