Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Mario's homesick. Big deal?

Well did it come as any surprise that after City put in a hugely confident display against one of Europe's top clubs (albeit in a friendly), with David Silva drawing plaudits from across the globe, the media cling on to a few small quotes from Mario Balotelli and blow them out of all proportion?

Erm, no, not really. It was bound to happen wasn't it? All the headlines say things like 'Mario hints at City exit' and 'Balotelli unhappy in Manchester' or even 'I'm sick of Manchester' and 'Mario mauls Manchester' have appeared in the last 24.

This has obviously caused quite a stir amongst fans and has divided opinions once again with some fans saying they've had enough and want him out and others saying that this is nothing more than the media stirring things again. I'm not one to unswervingly back someone just because they play for City, I'll say it how I see it, and I genuinely believe that a) Mario's not the brightest spark b) the media blow everything he does  and says out of all proportion in order to print a sensationalist headline to draw in more readers.

A large section of City fans have cried out about Balotelli 'running to the press' about his unhappiness and that he's obviously trying to get a move away from the club and that City should just cut their losses and sell him to the highest bidder; the exact kind of hysterical reaction that the media loves to induce. In fact there was no running done on Mario's part, rather it seems the press were eager to run to him. Mario didn't seek out anyone, they came to him.

So what's he actually said now in the interview, said to be post Inter match, that has caused such a stir? Now I don't speak Italian so I can't translate his interview given to Sky Sports Italia a couple of days ago so I'll have to take the quotes as I read them.

Most of the media has this line; "I'm not happy in Manchester, I don't like the city. I'm happy with the coach and within the team, but you can't have everything in life."

Lets just look at that honestly... He's not taken to the City but he's actually happy at the club with his manager and his teammates. His relationship with Mancini, however strained it may seem at times is one born of great respect, and is almost a father-son relationship with Mario even calling Mancini Papa. It's also plain to see that he has struck up a friendship with a number of teammates, not least fellow striker Edin Dzeko. You will often see them laughing and joking together during training and on matchdays.

And lets not forget this is a young man who has lived away from his family for the very first time, and he's done so in a different country whose media have hounded and vilified him, making him into some sort of fiendish reprobate only good for an asylum or locked away at Her Majesty's pleasure. Is it any wonder he's found it hard to settle? OK he's brought some of it on himself but he's hardly jack the ripper is he?

"I don't miss Milan, I miss Brescia, my home. I miss my family and my friends, but I think this experience in England will help me grow as an individual."

He's obviously been asked about Milan here otherwise he has no reason to mention it seeing as he clearly corrects whoever interviewed him by saying Brescia was his home. And lets face it, given the choice, I think most of us would prefer Brescia over Manchester as much as I love the City. Mario's adoptive parents live there, the parents that a young Balo couldn't go to sleep without at one time during his childhood. Who wouldn't miss their parents in his situation?

And no where has picked out what is ultimately a very positive part of this quote. He is looking to grow as an individual through his experience here in England and at Manchester City. We've already seen in his last quote that he's happy at the club itself and he accepts that "you can't have everything" all the time.

Which would you choose? Brescia (left) or Manchester (right)

"AC Milan is a great team and one day, you can not say what will happen. Inter again? We will see. At the moment I am attached to Manchester."

Again Mario has obviously been asked about potential moves to both Inter and AC Milan otherwise he wouldn't be saying any of this. And what has he said? He's a City player and who knows what will happen in the future. That's all he's said isn't it? Mario also has a slightly warped sense of humour, so to stir things between Inter and AC will have no doubt given him a great deal of mischievous satisfaction.

We can't expect every player that comes to City to instantly fall in love with it. Mario has supported AC Milan from childhood so why wouldn't he want to play for them at some point in the future? He's a normal human being with the same wants and desires as the rest of us. Just because he's paid x amount of pounds doesn't change his childhood dreams.

Mario's not gone and done what a certain other player has done recently and gone on a chat show and actually slagged off the City. He's given a post match interview and said he's not settled there for what is a genuine and valid reason. He's not complained about the people that live there or said there's nothing for him to do, he's just said he misses his family and friends back in Brescia.

What I do agree on is that Mario really needs to watch what he says to the press as he of all people should know by now how they can twist and manipulate what you say and do. That's his only 'crime' here, serial naivety. But the media got their little soundbite after a couple of leading questions and ran with it, and who can blame them? As annoying as it is for City fans who feel they have to defend their club seemingly every day, Mario sells papers. That said, expect another few headlines and the next day or two.


  1. Well done. Finally a sensible look at a small incident that has been magnified completely out of proportion my a press and fans who are much too anxious to vilify this young man.

  2. Great article. I have been really hard on Mario ever since that trick shot incident at the L.A. Galaxy match... but maybe a large part of the reason Mario is a bit headstrong is feeling unloved in Manchester. Time to show him some love for the good he does for our time, which is substantial. From here until he does something I consider tantamount to murder, he gets the benefit of the doubt.


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