Monday, July 25, 2011

Mario makes footy fun

It took a few seconds for Mario Balotelli's latest odd act to go viral. They swiftly trended on Twitter as links to the now-famous video clip peppered timelines across the globe. I duly clicked, watched, chortled. Then Tweeted on it myself. But when the dust had settled, though, there appeared to be the animosity towards the Manchester City striker for his actions. Why?

In a friendly match against LA Galaxy on Sunday, Balotelli, signed from Inter Milan for £24 million last summer, found himself tidy through on aim, his side leading 1-0 after they had scored from the penalty spot. But, in lieu of putting his laces through the chance, they opted for an audacious pirouette, before backheeling the ball a few yards wide of the target. His team-mate, Edin Dzeko, who lurked to his right, threw his arms up in disgust; City boss Roberto Mancini, meanwhile, got annoyed.

A bronzed Mancini pointed immediately in Balotelli's direction before waving a left hand at substitute James Milner. Minutes later, Balotelli trudged off, Milner replacing him. A verbal exchange then took place between Mancini and his French compatriot, with the latter seemingly indicating that they thought they was offside, hence the languid skill. Then, petulantly, they turned his back on his coach, strutting towards the bench whilst uttering under his breath. Mancini half-heartedly stalked him. A textbook throwing of a bottle then followed by Balotelli.

I am not defending 20-year-old Balotelli's reaction, they behaved like a brat and such a strop sends a poor message to the children watching. But doesn't Mancini, who worked with the attacker at Inter, know Balotelli well to anticipate they would have responded in such a way to being hooked? It may have got Mancini's goat, but why not wait until the interval to replace him, therefore suppressing the media furore that would inevitably follow? In lieu of speaking about Uruguay's Copa The united states final win - a record-breaking 15th South American title - the footballing masses were chatting all things 'Super Mario' on Sunday evening. Then, of work, Mancini's press conference was dominated by it.

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