“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.