Why always me?

by Ben McAleer

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Oh Mario, you are a character aren’t you? Whether it’s throwing darts at youth team players or speeding in your Maserati, picking up countless tickets and fines along the way, it’s setting off fireworks in your own house, sneaking into a women’s prison due to ‘curiosity’ or even proving to be the good samaritan, aiding a bullied child who was at a Manchester City training session when he should have been at school.

Since arriving at City over a year ago for £24m, controversy has stalked Balotelli no matter how hard he tries to rid the ‘bad boy’ personality. But, when he has got his head down and played football, like he has been doing in recent weeks, fans are beginning to forget about his past and focus more on his accomplishments on the pitch rather than the media loving off field antics.

And it is these performances that have seen the Italian begin to endear himself to fans up and down the country. Last season, it was hard to pick up a paper or find a story on the web where Balotelli’s name wouldn’t be splashed across the headline due to a recent back heel gone wrong or his attempts to decapitate a Ukrainian international.

Now, however, after said back heel, the papers are lapping up Mario’s performances in a City shirt despite setting off fireworks in his own bathroom, ironic considering that two days after the incident, he was made the Ambassador for firework safety in Manchester. Nonetheless, two goals in the 6-1 demolition of Manchester United, a game in which he was seen high fiving City fans in his Bentley convertible the very next day, coupled with strikes over Everton, Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa, has led to many fans forgiving him for his colourful history with many the Citizens faithful forgetting they have a player called Carlos Tevez in their ranks with the Italian currently firing on all cylinders.

Many were expecting City to have cut their losses over the summer on the temperamental striker, especially after numerous training ground gaffes one of which saw Balotelli giving a good telling off by manager Roberto Mancini while the squad continued training to the side of the duo. But, having knuckled down to try and win over his harshest critics, the former Inter star has begun to look like a guaranteed starter in Mancini’s first team having been forced for a place on the bench when the season kick off back in August.

With that in mind, the potential to be one of the world’s greatest footballers is still within Mario’s grasp. He has all the physical attributes to make it all the way to the top but the mental aspect of his game still needs work on. However, under Mancini he looks to have finally turned a corner in that respect and the £24m they spent on him last August looks to be finally reaping the rewards for City and their Arab owners.

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