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.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments