Remembering Mario Balotelli's time at Manchester City

Mario Balotelli is a memorable footballer for all the wrong reasons. The Italian was a very promising talent since he made his professional debut as a teenager for Inter Milan but most people agree that he never lived up to the expectations.

Furthermore, while the striker was capable of delivering some amazing moments, he was very prone to inconsistency and often had a lot of unnecessary controversies.

Mario Balotelli
His time at Manchester City in the early 2010s was probably the best evidence of that, with the Italian failing to live up to the expectations and getting himself into a lot of controversy. Despite having more second chances in his career later on, it is fair to claim that this was the moment when most football fans realized that he was never going to take things seriously as a top player.

The context

Mario Balotelli began to make a name for himself during his time with Inter Milan, making his professional debut in December of 2007 at 17 years of age. Despite being part of what was a star-studded Inter side, Balotelli, under the guidance of then-manager Roberto Mancini, started to become a lot more prominent and people began to notice him.

The Italian stood out because he was a very rare combination of skill and physicality, being capable of merging the best of both worlds as a striker. He also was shown to have a bit of an attitude, which initially endeared him to the Inter Milan faithful but eventually led to issues, such as Balotelli wearing a shirt of their rivals, AC Milan, while still playing for the former.

However, despite a lot of initial promise with Inter and having a very decent debut season as a teenager, Balotelli ended up struggling in the next two seasons under the club's new manager, Jose Mourinho. While the Portuguese took Inter Milan to far greater heights, winning the treble in the 2009-10 season, the truth of the matter is that Balotelli was not a huge factor in the team's success and eventually had a fall-out with Mourinho.

One of the main issues was a lack of training properly, which Mourinho took huge offense to, which led to the player often being sidelined during certain stretches of those two seasons. This was something that highlighted his lack of discipline, to which the Italian player didn't take kindly. Even Javier Zanetti, the club's captain, said that he had to work extra hard to live up to his promise.

However, during the summer of 2010, Balotelli was given a lifeline in the form of English football, and things would improve... only to get a lot worse down the line.

In Manchester City

Despite Mourinho, a manager who called him "unmanageable", was leaving for Real Madrid in the summer of 2010, Balotelli still chose to leave Inter Milan and signed for Manchester City for almost 22 million euros. Considering that his former Inter manager, Roberto Mancini, was the head coach at City, it seems like a good fit for Balotelli.

However, the truth of the matter is that the Italian's time at Manchester City highlighted all of his flaws and virtues as a player. While he definitely had a lot of talent and charisma, with his goal in the 2-6 victory against Manchester United and the subsequent "Why always me?" celebration being a prime example of this, there were also a lot of controversies.

The different negative things the Italian went through at City could range from less prominent such as not putting on the training kit while warming up before a match to throwing darts at a youth player or even getting into a women's prison to "look around". All of this also included getting sent off a couple of times for violent conduct and even going as far as getting wages deducted due to unprofessional behavior, which led Balotelli to take the people at City to court.

Despite being a striker, Balotelli got four red cards in the 2011/12 season, which is often considered his best year at the club. While he played a pivotal role in City winning the Premier League that season for the first time in decades, there is no denying that every good thing "Super Mario" did was unbalanced by a lot of negative stuff over the years. This wasn't exclusive of his time at City but it was arguably the last time that his talent could compensate a bit for his shortcomings as a professional.

Perhaps the biggest nail in the coffin, which took place during preseason in the summer of 2012, was when Balotelli did a backheel pass only to annoy manager Mancini, which led to the latter taking the former off the pitch immediately. This, along with the subsequent trial, led to the former Inter Milan signing for AC Milan in January of 2013, thus ending his association with Man City.

The aftermath

Mario Balotelli would end up having some good moments after leaving Man City, such as his first stint at AC Milan, his time at French side Nice, and even the couple of months he was at Marseille. However, every time there was something going on well in his career, the former Manchester City man would end up in some controversy and leaving the club soon after, which goes to show the kind of character he was.

There has never been any doubt that Balotelli is a supremely gifted player who could have done a lot more with his career. But the truth of the matter is that he is a player who was never professional enough and was too focused on things that didn't do him any good in the long run.
Peter Norman is from the green island of Ireland, loves football and Manchester United in particular, where also the great idol Roy Keane had his career. Peter is a trained journalist and likes to write articles and analyses of football.