On some level, credit must go to Mancini for seemingly opting to stick with his man. Balotelli is a player he purchased for City and maybe the manager feels he owes it to the 22-year old to give him a fair crack of the whip at City, even if he has had far too many cracks in his two-and-a-half year spell at the club. Let’s face it, after having shelled out £24 million for his man in August 2010, it’s almost fair to say that City have yet to see a major return on their investment. While you cannot question the loyalty City’s manager is showing his fellow countryman, you must also wonder how long he’s able to cope with this temperamental figure for.
A glance across the city to Old Trafford and Sir Alex Ferguson – in the past, players who feel they have a thing or two to say about affairs at the club – Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy – have all fallen under Ferguson’s mighty sword.
His dominance over all affairs in the red half of Manchester has never been brought into question and it’s interesting to imagine what situation Balotelli would find himself in if, say, Sir Alex was in charge of matters at the Etihad (seriously, picture the scene!). Should Mancini maybe rule with more of an iron fist? On this occasion I may be inclined to say no, as I feel that on his day, Balotelli can cause defences serious harm in this league and that’s not to be sniffed at.
Carlos Tevez, he himself not devoid of controversy, has stated recently that he will help Balotelli and have a word in his ear if he deems it necessary: “I try to help Mario. I’ll talk to him personally. I’ve been in that moment like him.” Having a character like Tevez around can only be a good thing for the Italian, as his fellow striker has visibly turned his career around at the club and is now one of Mancini’s key players when it once seemed very unlikely.
With the help of Carlos Tevez and a patient and understanding manager like Mancini, Mario Balotelli is seemingly in good hands and, with respect, his situation can only get better. Granted, it can’t get much worse. His performances have been off the mark this season and, when given a chance, he has failed to show enough. All the signs point to a potential departure but that would be too easy for Mancini.
If he gets Mario on-side and in good shape, there’s no reason why he can’t be a dangerous force for City for the rest of this campaign. With the team off the pace in the title race and out of Europe, there’s never been a more vital time for Balotelli to show his worth. Let’s have more of his Old Trafford performance from last season’s 6-1 win and less of his performance against the same side in this season’s 3-2 defeat.
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