It’s no secret that the lads in the top flight of football are earning an absolute fortune, but once they have finished buying women, houses with swimming pools, pedicures for their wives’ Chihuahuas and more women, believe it or not, but they often still have enough left over for some pretty fancy cars. British used car company Autoweb thought it would be fun to look at ten of the most interesting cars owned by footballers. It turns out that Ashley Cole can’t handle more than one woman at the time, hence the two-seater, Messi is saving up for something special, Rooney is as subtle as a brick, Henry isn’t quite mixing with the highflyers and Cristiano Ronaldo is just as flashy off the pitch as he is on it.
July 6th 2010 – Mino Raiola, agent “Was there a real offer from City? Yes, there was but it is not for me to say. Mario Balotelli’s situation is calm. He is an Inter player. There are no negotiations, hence, he will remain at Inter.”
July 10th 2010 – Balotelli “Roberto Mancini? He’s a great coach, I debuted in Serie A with him because he is a great friend. If he and (Sir Alex) Ferguson want me, it means I’m not as bad as I thought. United is a great club. They have not seen the real Balotelli, for sure I need to learn and achieve more goals. I want to win the Golden Ball in 2011.”
August 13th 2010 – Balotell signs for Manchester City “I’m sorry that I’m leaving Inter and Italy because I would have preferred to continue my professional career in my own country. I’m going where I hope to find the space I need to play which is very important to me: I need to play, to make mistakes, to learn and to play again. As well as a calm environment around me.”
August 19th 2010 – Balotelli scores on his début in a 1-0 win over FC Timisoara in the Europa League
August 23rd 2010 – Roberto Mancini, City manager “I think that Balotelli could be as good as Torres and even better than him. That’s because Torres can only play as a striker. Balotelli can play as a striker and as a winger. He has a different attitude from Torres.”
August 28th 2010 – Balotelli crashed his car in Manchester but was unharmed
September 8th 2010 – Balotelli will miss two months after requiring knee surgery
September 9th 2010 – Balotelli “I’m pleased for the words of Galliani. I like AC Milan, they are a strong team.”
September 10th 2010 – Balotelli sang the AC Milan anthem out of the window at his hospital in Pavia to fans and journalists before leaning out and shouting ‘Forza Milan!’
November 3rd 2010 – Roberto Mancini “It is better that he doesn’t talk, just play. He needs to get a focus on the match. He has been out for a long time and now just needs to play games. Maybe he still needs to understand English football, like David Silva when he first arrived. It took David two months to adapt and maybe it will take Mario the same. But people will see that he is a fantastic player.”
November 7th 2010 – Balotelli scores twice before being sent off against West Brom
November 17th 2010 – Balotelli “One day I’d like to come back playing with Ibrahimovic – and I’m not bothered which shirt it is in.”
November 18th 2010 – Balotelli “The likelihood is that I will be at City up to June. I have a five-year contract and I can’t say anything. It’s true that I had supper with Galliani after the derby.”
November 23rd 2010 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic “This summer he called me every day because I went to Manchester City with him. Mario is a great player who will do well in England… I’m glad he wants to play with me, but to do it Mario must come here at Milan. Will I call him? No, he must call Galliani.”
December 3rd 2010 – Balotelli and Jerome Boateng had to be pulled apart after a training ground clash
December 21st 2010 – Balotelli pipped Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere to the Golden Boy 2010 “I don’t know who Wilshere is but the next time I play against Arsenal I will keep a close eye on him.”
December 22nd 2010 – Balotelli “I want to be the best player in the world. It is good to have ambition. I’ve said in the past that I don’t care what other people want or expect of me because I know what I want. I am really happy to have won the Golden Boy 2010, but who else should have won it if not me? Two years ago I finished sixth and in 2009 in fourth. Now it is my turn. Now my objective is to win the Ballon d’Or without age limits. To win the Golden Boy is a good omen to win the main prize. I am now a candidate for that. There is only one player who is a little stronger than me – Messi. All the others are behind me.”
January 18th 2011 – Balotelli “Do I envy Cassano for going to AC Milan? A little. Silvio Berlusconi said that Cassano is the best Italian talent – he’s wrong or doesn’t know Balotelli. Me with Ibra and Cassano at Milan? It’ll happen soon. For this year, and another, I will stay at City where I’m fine.”
February 28th 2011 – Roberto Mancini “I am not happy with Mario. I know him very well and I know he can play better. He can play for the team. He scored a fantastic goal, but there were still 70 minutes left. He can’t lose the ball all the time. Every time the ball went to the front, we didn’t keep it.”
March 4th 2011 – Roberto Mancini “He is not listening to me. I speak but I don’t think he listens. It is not important that he doesn’t listen to me. What is important is that he does well, that he scores. But I know he can do better because I know his quality. He can change every game if he wants. He could score in every game.”
March 11th 2011 - Balotelli’s face swells up as he suffers from an allergic reaction to grass during Manchester City’s deafeat against Dynamo Kiev
March 18th 2011 - Balotelli sent off in crucial game against Dynamo Kiev which sees Manchester City knocked out of the Europa League “If it stays 11 versus 11, we would have probably scored two or three goals,” said Mancini. “I am very disappointed because in a game like this it is very difficult if you pick up a red card, and you can pick up a red card for doing something stupid. The problem for Mario is that he thinks he could be a fantastic player. But when he does something stupid like that, it is difficult for me, difficult for him and difficult for the team.”
“I am very sorry to my team-mates in particular that I got sent off so early in such an important game,” said Balotelli. “I never tried to make contact with Popov and I certainly didn’t want to hurt him. In retrospect, however, the tackle was poor.”
March 28th 2011 – Balotelli is investigated by the club after it emerged he threw darts at a youth team player at the training ground
April 5th 2011 – Sir Alex Ferguson “Even I have several emotional talents in the team. Players can also be inspired by the presence of unconventional characters. They are born with that character and that doesn’t change in one year. The problem comes if it creates an imbalance in the changing room. But players can also be inspired by the presence of unconventional characters. Balotelli is a very emotional player, just like other youngsters that have a high potential. Rooney was like that, with an explosive character, with so much will to do things that he overdid it. Now Rooney is 25 and he has matured a lot. But time is needed for Balotelli.”
May 14th 2011 – Balotelli wins the FA Cup with Manchester City, their first trophy in 35 years.
July 25th 2011 – Balotelli has a row with Mancini after being substituted in a friendly against LA Galaxy. Instead of scoring a simple tap-in, Balotelli attempted to showboat and failed, which infuriated Mancini.
“He needs to understand his behaviour has to be good in every game – not just in a final or a semi-final but every game,” said Mancini. “He knows he made a mistake. Football should always be serious and if you have a chance to score, you should score.”
August 1st 2011 – Balotelli “I am not well in Manchester, I don’t like the city. I don’t know if I will stay until the end of my contract. I’m here for now and then we’ll see.”
October 22nd 2011 – Balotelli has escaped unhurt after a firework went off in his bathroom and set his house on fire.
October 23rd 2011 – Balotelli scores twice in Manchester City’s 6-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford and revealed a t-shirt which read “Why always me?”
November 27th 2011 – Balotelli sent off in 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield
December 12th 2011 – Balotelli breaks club curfew before Manchester City’s game against Chelsea
December 15th 2011 – Balotelli and Micah Richards have to be pulled apart after a training ground bust up
December 31st 2011 – Mancini “I know he smokes. For me it is not okay – but I am not his father or his mother! If he was my son I would go to him and kick him on the arse. But he is not my son. I told him, for me it is better if you don’t smoke. I am against cigarettes – for this reason my son does not smoke. But there are players in Italy and here that do smoke. I don’t think he smokes a lot of cigarettes, five or six a day – but I told him.”
January 25th 2012 – Balotelli banned for four games for violent conduct after stamping on Scott Parker
March 7th 2012 – Balotelli is fined a week’s wages for going to a strip club and breaking a club curfew two days before Manchester City’s league game against Bolton
March 10th 2012 – Balotelli “Mancini spent a lot to get me, he had great confidence in me, so I feel more responsibility towards him, so I can’t let myself do stupid things. Every time I play well, I’m pleased for myself, but I’m also pleased for him too.”
March 27th 2012 – Balotelli gatecrashes an Inter Milan press conference as new boss Andrea Stramaccioni was being presented to the media.
April 5th 2012 – Balotelli unharmed after crashing his Bentley in Manchester
April 8th 2012 – Balotelli is sent off in a crucial Premier League game against Arsenal which Manchester City lose 1-0 “I am finished,” said Mancini. “We have six games and he will not play in the next six games.” Pushed further on whether he would try to sell Balotelli at the end of the season, Mancini replied: “Probably – but I don’t know. It depends, because Balotelli is a fantastic player. I can continue to play with Mario on the pitch. Every time, we risk one sent off, like today.”
May 13th 2012 – Balotelli wins the Premier League with Manchester City
July 2nd 2012 – Raiola, “I’m 200% certain that Mario will not return to Italy at least while I’m his agent. I have always said that Mario Balotelli is one player that could become the strongest in the world. He is probably amongst the strongest in Europe. How much is he worth? He is worth what the market says, he is one that can make a difference. In the actual market I don’t think there is a value for him but if I had to give a price I would say he is worth €250million. I say this to give a figure but you would have to ask the City owner how much he is worth.”
August 12th 2012 – Mancini, “There were four or five teams. Not just from Italy also from France. Many important teams wanted him but he’s a top player and I never thought about saying yes to any of them.”
September 21st 2012 – Reports emerge of a bust up between Mancini and Balotelli ahead of City’s game against Arsenal.
October 14th 2012 – Brian Marwood, “I think that it’s important to make a good example. I think – and we all know who we are talking about – that you will get people within the system who do not show the right values and the right behaviour.”
November 16th 2012 – Raiola, “He feels really good at City. There is no crisis between Mario and City or between Mario and Mancini. What the papers write is garbage. Not being happy at being in the stands is completely different to wanting to leave. We plan to stay at City for at least another year-and-a-half. Even if we did decide to leave tomorrow, I don’t think there are any clubs in Italy that could sign him.”
November 30th 2012 – Balotelli scored first league goal of the season.
December 16th 2012 – Balotelli planned to take City to a tribunal after disagreeing with the £340,000 fine he was given for indiscipline the season before. Three days later Balotelli had positive talks with the club and accepted the fine.
January 3rd 2013 – Mancini and Balotelli pictured in a training ground bust up.
January 5th 2013 – Mancini, “I think he should understand the career of players is very short,” said Mancini. “He is 22 – three, four or five years can pass in one second. I hope that the days arrive that he can understand that he can’t leave his quality like this. I hope for him – also if he did a lot of mistakes – he can change.”
January 8th 2013 – Silvio Berlusconi, AC Milan president “The name of Balotelli never came into my thoughts, he is a rotten apple and could infect every group where he goes, even Milan. I’m sorry to say this, but in Milan is very important to the human aspect. If you put a rotten apple in the locker room can infect all the others.”
January 30th 2013 – Balotelli agreed a four and a half year deal with AC Milan. “Being at City was an important part of my life and career. I needed to grow up like a player and as a person and it has been a very good experience for me. I will remember, too, the song that City fans had for me. It was special for me and I always liked to hear it. I hope they can still sing it sometimes. I will always be interested in Manchester City and their fortunes. I really hope that City can win the league again this year and beat United. I think there are great players at the club and a great manager too.”
February 2nd 2013 – Balotelli, “To be honest the Premier League is an amazing league and I think it is the best. The crowd and the pitch… it’s an amazing league. I don’t know in the future if I could come back. For the moment I’m here. To be a player for Milan has always been my dream so I’m very happy.”
The decision by Trafford Borough Council to deny Manchester City the opportunity to build a fence around their training facility in Carrington high enough to block out the camera lenses of snooping photographers has turned out to be a rather damaging one. Cameramen can sit in a tree on a public footpath and take snaps of City’s sessions as they please. Any incident that flares up is caught on camera and subsequently scrutinised by the media and fans. It is a problem exclusive to City.
The latest incident to leak out of Carrington is a bust up between Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli. Whereas scuffles between players has been the cause of past embarrassments, this time it involves the manager. It’s Fleet Street’s dream and they have lapped it up. Previous incidents between City players (Balotelli vs Boateng, Adebayor vs Kolo Toure and Balotelli vs Richards) have been brushed off as indicative of training grounds all over the country, but when a club’s manager is involved the problem suddenly seems more serious.
Balotelli went in hard on Scott Sinclair during a practice match, only for Mancini to take exception and order the Italian inside. Balotelli refused, sparking the coming together that was photographed and distributed to the press within minutes. The pictures embarrass the club again and have somewhat damaged Mancini’s reputation. He appeared to be the aggressor.
Today, though, Mancini faced the press and true to form he managed to take the heat out of the situation. He is known as a combustible character, but when he needs to he can nullify intense media-induced hysteria.
“We were playing a game and Mario kicked his team-mate. I told him to leave the pitch, he said ‘no’, and I took his shirt and pushed him from the pitch. That is what really happened – nothing special, no fight. These are things that can happen, usually between players. This was different because I wanted him to leave the pitch for what he did against another player.”
Asked whether the row meant Balotelli would leave City, Mancini said: “No, no, no, no. This is not important – it doesn’t change my thoughts on this.”
“Mario made a tackle on his team-mate that I would prefer to see in a game and not against a team-mate.”
“I asked him to leave the pitch – he said ‘no’ so I moved him off. That’s all that happened and it was nothing more than that.
“Nothing has changed between Mario and me and my thoughts have not changed about him and these things happen from time to time.
“Will Mario have more chances? I will give him 100 chances as long as I can see him trying to improve and working hard for this football club.”
Mancini admitted losing his temper temporarily.
“For two seconds, yes. Three, four seconds later no. He didn’t want to leave pitch. No fight.”
It seems like Mancini’s comments have ended the frenzy, which, in truth, got somewhat out of hand. Gary Neville took to Twitter to make the point the point that incidents like this weren’t a rarity, but the media storm continued unabated. The real issue here is the privacy of City’s training facility – the quicker they move, the better. It’s a bizarre situation that a club the size of City are constantly dealing with leaked images from their training sessions.
Much has been made about Balotelli’s future at the club, too. Mancini’s comments today, and his treatment of Balotelli in the past, suggest that this incident doesn’t signal the end of his time as a Manchester City player, however, perhaps for the first time, many City fans appear to be of the mind that the time for Balotelli to leave may be now. Mancini has shown an almost weird amount of faith in his £24m signing but the striker is struggling for form and continues to cause problems. Mancini clearly wants to be the man who cracks the Balotelli code. He sees huge potential and wants to turn him into one of the finest players in world football, but temper tantrums, poor performances, ill discipline and even the threat of a taking the club to court have all combined to test Mancini’s patience. In a world of indetikit footballers, Balotelli seemed like a breath of fresh air, but City fans now want to see their loveable rogue realise his undoubted potential. It’s been a long time coming.
“Mario should have been sent off after 20 minutes,” Roberto Mancini said after the game. “I’ve finished my words for him. I’ve finished. I hope, for him, he can understand that he’s in a bad way for his future. And he can change his behaviour in the future. But I’m finished.”
However, a few weeks later, Balotelli was back in the City squad for the title decider against Manchester United and Mancini’s empty threats were exposed.
Balotelli is regularly grabbing the headlines for his conduct on and off the pitch, but to be fair to him, it’s no wonder he believes he can get away with murder, because throughout his time at City he’s been treated differently. Rival manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, would argue that you have to handle the most talented players differently if necessary. Eric Cantona is a prime example of a supremely talented player with a fiery nature who the United boss gave special treatment to. Lee Sharpe has voiced his frustration about this in the past, claiming that Cantona got away with things he never would have. It appears as though Balotelli has rubbed several City players up the wrong way too following his behaviour.
When treating players differently, a line has to be drawn somewhere and it appeared as though, for Balotelli, Mancini drew that line in April. The manager went back on that decision and in the 19 games he’s played in since Mancini said he was finished with Balotelli, the Italian has scored just 3 goals. As Balotelli revealed earlier this year, he had never heard of City before signing for them and the only reason why he did was because of his relationship with Mancini. You would assume that a break down in this relationship could lead to his departure from the club.
Balotelli was taken off during the Manchester derby a few weeks ago, after missing a great chance to give City an early lead, and was left out of the squad all together for the following game. Mancini claimed that Balotelli needed to start working hard in training before he would play again.
Today, Balotelli was set to attend a tribunal after disagreeing with the club’s decision to fine him two weeks wages for his disciplinary record last season. He missed 11 games in all competitions through suspension, following three red cards and nine yellow, so the club attempted to put their foot down again.
The BBC has today reported that the tribunal has been postponed after overnight discussions between the player and club. Yesterday, Balotelli was sent home from training after meeting with the club doctor, although this is not the reason for the postponement.
Whilst not direcetly responding to the Balotelli case, Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken about the need for players to behave and want to be at the club.
“You can’t ever lose control – not when you are dealing with thirty top professionals who are all millionaires,” he said. “If they misbehave, we fine them, but we keep it indoors. And if anyone steps out of my control, that’s them dead. When I work with the biggest talents, I tell them that hard work is a talent, too,” Ferguson added. “They need to work harder than anyone else. And if they can no longer bring the discipline that we ask for here at United, they are out. I am only interested in players who really want to play for United, and who, like me, are ‘bad losers’.”
Maybe it’s time for Mancini to take a leaf out of Ferguon’s book and sort out the Balotelli problem once and for all.