Monday, July 25, 2011

Balotelli substituted in disgrace

Mario Balotelli's remarkable talent for finding new ways to embroil himself in controversy resurfaced on Manchester City's pre-season trip to Los Angeles when the Italian was substituted in disgrace only 30 minutes into a friendly against LA Galaxy.

Balotelli then became involved in a touchline row with his manager, Roberto Mancini, and angrily threw a water bottle on to the pitch after taking his seat among the substitutes.

The striker had gone clean through on goal a few minutes earlier but, rather than finishing off an easy chance, he turned full circle, flicking the ball behind his legs and trying to score with a backheel. It was a remarkable act of self-indulgence and, as the ball went wide, several of his team-mates, particularly Edin Dzeko, could be seen remonstrating with him.

Balotelli had opened the scoring from the penalty spot but Mancini was so incensed with the showboating that he immediately signalled for James Milner to replace the former Internazionale striker. The manager studiously ignored Balotelli as he was substituted only for the player to confront him and demand to know why he had been replaced. Mancini rose to his feet and started to berate him angrily before Balotelli stalked off.

"I hope this is a lesson for him," said Mancini, who hopes a deal for the Atlético Madrid striker, Sergio Agüero, can be done in the next four or five days. "In football you always need to be professional, always serious and in this moment he wasn't professional. He needs to understand his behaviour has to be good in every game – not just in a final or a semi-final but every game.

"He knows he made a mistake. Football should always be serious and if you have a chance to score, you should score. If you are serious, you can play 90 minutes. If not, you can come and sit by me on the bench. Mario is young, I want to help him and that is the end of it. To take him off after 30 minutes is enough punishment. It won't have been easy for him but it has to be a lesson."

Click here to see the video of the spectacle that is Mario Balotelli.

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