Why Football’s treatment of Mario Balotelli screams of hypocrisy
Liverpool’s latest singing is remarkable, controversial, exciting and also slightly worrying; such is the stigma surrounding one Mario Balotelli. A maverick forward whose personal demons far exceed those who are so quick to criticise him, the 24 year-old suffered from a life threatening chronic intestinal condition as a child, while the racist abuse he has suffered at the hands of the Italian fans who are supposed to adore him remains a harrowing reality in the story of the life of Mario. He’s now back in England with Liverpool, and although the speculation and criticism still rages on, is he really the catastrophe in-waiting to Liverpool’s grandiose ambitions?
Article by Peter Swallow
There are indisputable facts regarding ‘Super Mario’ but the one thatshould be the focus of his move to Merseyside is this, he’s brilliant. A world-class individual with the ability to amaze and admittedly, frustrate in equal measure, however there must be a reason why Christian Vieri says his departure is the best piece of business in Milan’s lauded history.
The reality of the situation however, is that the situation regardingMario Balotelli seems a far better deal for his new club, than his old one. Liverpool have taken advantage of Milan’s dire financial situation, signing a potential mega-star for £16 million could hardly be construed as bad business.
With the money being splurged on the likes of Ross McCormack,Shane Long and possibly Jordan Rhodes, it’s clear that Balotelli makes a great deal of sense from Liverpool’s end.
Few have disputed that fact, what concerns most is the playersattitude and discipline. It’s true that while in England, two things were a guarantee, a Bacon Sandwich on a Sunday morning and a story about the antics of Mario Balotelli, and while the former was always glorious, the latter was rarely flattering.
From setting off Fireworks in his bathroom to saving a child from the wrath of a bully, he’s seemingly seen, and done it all. Yet how detrimental are these instances to the team dynamic? I’d argue hardly at all.
His disciplinary record is the main cause for concern, and it’s an area where improvement must be made. As Manchester City limped to thePremier League title, Balotelli’s numerous indiscretions regarding discipline were often touted as the reasons why City would not win the title. Redemption came in the form of an assist for ‘that’ Agüero goal but had the ball not nestled into the net, it’s likely Mario would have been the Sky Blue Scapegoat.
Yet it is important to remember that at Manchester City, Balotelli was still a boy and an immature one at that, while his time back in Italy with AC Milan has seen significant growth in terms of maturity.
For many, Brendan Rogers must curtail Balotelli’s wild side, like a naughty puppy, the key to a happy life is surely some sort of Pavlovian conditioning, no? No, Part of what makes Mario such a phenomenon is the madness that comes with him. It allows the Italian to try such extravagant things and while they sometimes fail, it nevertheless makes him the definition of ‘box office’.
To take that away robs Mario of what makes him a great player,while constant castigation from Brendan Rodgers would also be ill advised as Roberto Mancini found out. It’s also important to remember the player who he’ll be replacing, Luis Suárez was no saint, and arguably equally as temperamental on the field, while Richard Scudamore said English Football was “better without” the Uruguayan. The difference was performance; Suárez proved his quality, Mario has yet to.
All genuine world-class players have something about them apart from their obvious talent. Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie,Zlatan Ibrahimović, Cristiano Ronaldo and even Luis Suárez have deficiencies in their personality. Mario is no different.
The hypocrisy lies with how he’s treated and the manner with which he’s been held accountable for his actions in the past. Wayne Rooney was allowed to use the exuberance of youth to explain his petulance, yet Mario Balotelli for whatever reason has not been afforded such an alibi.
Questions remain as to whether he necessarily fits into Liverpool’s fast, fluid style of football while the Italian’s agent Mino Raiola has stated that this is his clients last chance to succeed at the top level, so Balotelli is under no illusions as to the make or break reality of his situation.
The risks then, are greatly exaggerated. Had the potential for catastrophe been as real as many suggest, then Balotelli would have found himself lost in the football wilderness long ago.
It’s the moments of brilliance that make him an attractive option, memories of that night in Warsaw when he demolished Germany live strong in the memory, as does his recent wonder strike against Bologna.
There is little doubt that he can be a handful, yet the constant vilification of Mario Balotelli remains wholeheartedly unfair. On his day he can be as good as anyone, but now is the time to put up or shut up, with the benefit of a clean slate on his side.