Anyone thinking back to Manchester City’s pre-season will remember one thing above all others – the attempted back heeled goal by Mario Balotelli against LA Galaxy, and the subsequent reactions by both Mancini who was furious and promptly substituted the player for ‘not taking football seriously enough’ and the player himself reacting as though he could teach a toddler a thing or two about throwing their toys out of the pram.
Fast forward a couple of months, and after a couple of unfortunate incidents with other member s of the City front line, mostly occurring against Bayern Munich in the champions league, Balotelli is now City’s main man, scoring 4 goals in 4 games, the last of which was a brilliant overhead kick against Aston Villa on the weekend.
The future of Carlos Tevez at Manchester City is over, with the player now quite rightly in exile, having evidently decided the bench was closer to his family in Argentina than the field of play, hence refusing to come on as a substitute losing not only the respect of his manager and fans but also more importantly their trust.
Edin Dzeko also challenged Mancini during the same game, and whilst that incident is now forgotten, the subsequent loss of his place in the starting line up as a result and the form of Balotelli may be something he lives to regret. One player Balotelli is not in front of in the pecking order is Sergio Aguero, yet with the player missing through injury this weekend, Balotelli took his chance and again left a lasting impression on the game, being the inspiration for City’s 4 – 1 victory.
The form and attitude displayer by the 21 year old has not gone unnoticed by his team mates either, with De Jong commenting that even in training the player is ‘behaving quite normally for him’ – yet compared to his previous behaviour of trips to a women’s prison and Mafia links, just how normally this is leaves a lingering question! However, the fact remains, in the last few weeks, Balotelli has left his performances on the pitch to do the talking, and they have spoken in volumes about what ability the boy has when he puts his mind to it and controls his behaviour.
Despite his former manager Jose Mourinho wrongly calling the player ‘unmanageable’, the faith that Roberto Mancini has shown the player is paying off, and for a player whose talent has never been in question, the levels that Balotelli could potentially reach within the game are limitless.
City’s real challenge is yet to come, when in December they face a fixture list that even Barcelona would struggle with, playing Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Stoke in the premier league, along with a Champions League game against Munich thrown in for good measure. Balotelli will be hoping he has more than a little bit to say in those games, and really put in a claim for being City’s unlikely hero this season.
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