Kevin Garside: Why is it always you, Balotelli? Because you make it so with childish behaviour and clueless acts of petulance

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Entertaining as his eruptions are to the galleries, they embarrass the club

On one side of the football firmament, in a moment of resistance that sent a powerful message around the world, a player stood up for what he believed in. On the other, there was Super Mario scrapping with the boss on the training ground in a clueless act of petulance.

Kevin-Prince Boateng did what the authorities should have done years ago. He said enough is enough and, in the 26th minute of Milan's friendly with Pro Patria, brought proceedings to an end in the face of racist chanting. Boateng kicked the ball in the direction of the vile boneheads abusing him in the crowd and walked magnificently from the pitch, taking 21 players and the match officials with him.

This was not in some far-flung corner in the heel of Italy, but Busto Arsizio, an enclave to the north of Milan in the heart of Lombardy. In one principled act broadcast across the globe via the internet, the midfielder elevated himself and football to a new level of consciousness and responsibility that ought to have profound consequences for all who care about the game.

Meanwhile Balotelli drew even deeper on his inexhaustible reserves of puerile selfishness to defy the authority of his manager.

Entertaining as Balotelli's eruptions are for the galleries, they confer only embarrassment on the club. The biggest belly laugh could be heard across the Carrington fence in the office of Sir Alex Ferguson. As if a seven-point lead were not enough, his nearest rivals offer the gift of a self-inflicted imbroglio guaranteed to drain from Mancini the focus he should be bringing to closing the gap at the top of the Premier League.

The value of Balotelli to Manchester City is said to be in the brand awareness he brings to the club. Their Abu Dhabi owners invested millions in a project they hoped would act as a vehicle to drive interest in the Emirate state and the wider region.

Balotelli is a favourite with the owner, Sheikh Mansour, who, despite the catalogue of rogue misdemeanours, looks the other way because of the attention the player attracts, and the perceived glow.

The divine comedy associated with the spirited Italian has hitherto been attributed to youth, his eccentricities acceptable within his peculiar arc of genius. But how long before Balotelli is seen as a humiliation to a regal institution acutely sensitive to perception in a country where social mores fall on the conservative side of the spectrum?

The greater concern for Balotelli is the contrast between this latest episode and his performances on the pitch, the arena in which he is paid to entertain. Balotelli has scored only one Premier League goal this season. His apologists might argue that he has not played enough. This might be the reason why.

Brilliant as his displays were for Italy in last summer's European Championship finals, Balotelli is a player who still can't be trusted. Consistency comes with the acceptance of his responsibility and a retreat from the childish sense of self that places him at the centre of the universe. "Why always me?" he asked in a legend scrawled on his favourite undergarment. The answer, Mario, is because you make it so.

While the world waits for Balotelli to grow up, he is at risk of seeing his importance to City shrink to vanishing point.

If he loses the good will of Mancini, who has arguably done more than any to help him, what hope is there? Yaya Touré is off to the African Cup of Nations, Sergio Aguero to the treatment table nursing a hamstring. This ought to have been Balotelli's time. Instead his time might be up. And he has only himself to blame.

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before