Roberto Mancini certainly has his work cut out to keep a lid on all the growing egos and bad attitudes that are inevitably going to exist in his billion pound squad.
Petulance seems to have been a common problem at Manchester City over the past couple of seasons.We have seen want-away captain Carlos Tevez throw is toys out of his pram after being substituted and he has openly criticised and disagreed with the new training regime under the new Italian manager.
Now it is the turn of Mario Balotelli to claim the limelight for all the wrong reasons. He is a promising young player but his bad behaviour and immature attitude could see him fail to fulfil his potential at Man City. So far Roberto Mancini has been beyond patient with his temperamental forward, but there will come a point when his antics will warrant a significant punishment and there is only so long that he can use his age as an excuse.
In Man City’s recent pre-season friendly against LA Galaxy Balotelli was pulled off after 30 minutes for wasting an opportunity in front of goal by showboating. Whether he thought he was offside or not – in the words of David Beckham – you have to remain professional and play to the whistle. He clearly didn’t do that and Mancini was furious. He immediately replaced him with James Milner and Balotelli proceeded to have a very public disagreement with Mancini.
I was pleased to see Mancini punish Balotelli for his behaviour on the pitch but I feel like he needs to be stronger in the way he deals with the players being personally disrespectful of him and his decisions. Not only did Balotelli confront his manager after being pulled off the pitch, (and I imagine he didn’t mince his words), he then walked down the touch line to take his place on the bench – completely ignoring Mancini and threw his water bottle to the floor. It was embarrassing for Mancini and it looked as though he had very little authority over his expensive star.
His team-mate Nigel De Jong said that they have tried some ‘tough love’ to get the message through to Balotelli to change his ways but it hasn’t worked. He added: “It is frustrating and he has to iron out those issues, otherwise it will be a waste of his talent, he has to realise that. Everybody is trying, but it is up to him to change himself, he has to realise it’s up to him. It’s not up to anyone else any more. We’re his team-mates and we’re always trying to help him but he has to make the right decisions and get the focus for himself.”
The man is 20 years old, he isn’t 15. He should be able to control his temper and should have learned a little respect by now and not need his team-mates to hold his hand. His temper was a massive issue throughout his Inter career and former boss José Mourinho certainly made sure that his bad behaviour didn’t go unnoticed and banned him from matches as punishment. He has now been at Man City for one full season and has already picked up two red cards, and for a striker, that is two too many.
It is not just his behaviour on the pitch that irritates fans. He has a problem of not engaging his brain before speaking and acting. In the 2009/10 season, while at Inter, he incensed the Inter fans by going on TV wearing an AC Milan shirt and was forced to make a public apology for his actions. In 2010 he won the Golden Boy award (award for the best Under-21 player in Europe) and claimed that Lionel Messi was the only previous winner that was slightly better than he was – true or not, a little humility wouldn’t go a miss! He then disrespected Jack Wilshire by, after beating him to the Golden Boy award, claiming to not know who he was. After winning the FA Cup he swore in a post match interview and followed it up with “am I allowed to say that?” funnily enough Mario, no you’re not.
If his behaviour goes without severe punishment at City, not only could it hinder his personal development, but it could send out the wrong signals to the other big characters at the club.