Mario Balotelli got the starting slot ahead of Eden Dzeko on Sunday for Manchester City. Manager Roberto Mancini showing some real faith in the enigmatic and occasionally brilliant youngster. Balotelli repaid it by ignoring the direction Mancini gave him on how he could be effective, and simply “playing his own game.” And their lies the huge challenge that Mancini has. The young Italian player has proved over and over that he is incapable of accepting direction, and unwilling to compromise his personal style. He may be the worst “team player” I have ever seen.
City had started very brightly, dominating possession and looking pretty dangerous, though already you could see that Balotelli was more interested in producing a moment of genius than staying focused and holding the ball. Rooney’s weakly hit first goal, followed by a much better second goal, meant that City faced an uphill battle.
Balotelli must have been given some direction again, at half time, because Mancini, who maybe was trying to protect himself from criticism, left him on. A few minutes in though with Balotelli engaging in a succession of silly, failed back flicks etc. he got hauled off. His predictable reaction was to walk straight down the tunnel, like a petulant child.
City hauled themselves back into it, though with the good fortune of an incorrectly called offside, on what would have been United third goal – only to concede a late goal from a Van Persie free kick.
Mancini now faces a major challenge. He seems to have hitched his wagon to Balotelli, only to be consistently let down. Combine that with the Champions League failure, and now falling 6 points behind Manchester United in the title race, I think Mario will be used as the excuse for Mancini’s demise.
The January transfer window is coming up. If Mancini stays I think Balotelli could be sold, with Falcao coming in from Athletic Madrid. If Mancini is fired, I see the exact same move!