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Saturday April 26 2014
Enough Balotelli alibis

It’s time to stop making excuses for Mario Balotelli, says Susy Campanale, or he will never learn from Miralem Pjanic.

How much longer do we have to keep trotting out the same old tired alibis for Mario Balotelli’s failure to make the step up? We’ve heard it all before – he’s young, he’s inexperienced, he needs to settle down off the field before he can get his head together, he has to feel loved by club and Coach. None of this applies now. Mario is playing for Milan, the side he supported even when he wore the Inter jersey, and can learn a lot from Clarence Seedorf. He is a father now and appears to have found some stability with girlfriend Fanny Neguesha. Above all, Balotelli is 23 years old – only four months younger than Miralem Pjanic.

The Roma midfielder scored a sensational solo effort in the 2-0 victory over Milan, giving a performance that was the polar opposite of whatever half-hearted slop Balotelli put into the same match. Pjanic worked hard, showed skill, leadership and tactical intelligence to knit the midfield and forward line together. Balotelli wandered about aimlessly, pausing only to moan at the referee, at teammates, at his Coach and afterwards at Sky Sport Italia pundits.

That interview really was car crash television. You could tell it was not going to end well from the moment the pundits declared he was ‘not a top player’ and the image cut to Balotelli listening in ready to be interviewed, his face a picture of barely suppressed rage. Those toys weren’t going to stay in the pram for long...

Giancarlo Marocchi was cut down with a damning statement: “You don’t understand anything about football. Trust me, you really don’t.” It’s not as if Marocchi’s question had been unfair, he had simply asked if Balo thought he’d make a greater impact on the field if he moved more off the ball. It’s a criticism every fan and Coach has levelled at Mario, as we’ve all recognised those days when he visibly can’t be bothered.

Balotelli has played in Serie A and the Premier League for many years now, so you can’t realistically still say he’s inexperienced. He was born in 1990, the same year as Pjanic. Mario’s early years were tough, but Miralem’s family fled Bosnia just before the outbreak of war. Roma fans jeered Balo from start to finish in last night’s game, but insults aren’t always prompted by racism. Sometimes he gets jeered because he is quite simply an irritating character.

The World Cup is this summer and Italy need the best version of Balotelli. If the petulant man-child we saw at the Olimpico turns up, then he may as well just go sit on the beach with some ice cream and let the adults play. We’re through making excuses for him.

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Have your say...
Balotelli was given the lowest performance rating while Bonera was given the best on Milan. Honda was also bad, Taarbt looked like a idiot and Kaka was mediocre on the night. Even the lowest rated player on Roma had a higher rating than the top player on Milan. Balotelli may have been the only player to get in behind the defense. When he does his confidence is low and he looks for a pass instead of shooting but his team mates movement off the ball is equally as confused as his then he dives.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 5:22pm
@viktor
Wow what a turn around.. you finally opened your eyes and realised what I said all along about balo! Hahahha
on the 26th April, 2014 at 5:14pm
This is Silly makes a pertinent point about the quality of Boban's Milan and Balotelli's. I still say that the club management is the biggest problem of all, maybe even more so than the players. If doubts over Seedorf's future can gather steam during a winning streak, and then increase more after a defeat against this Roma side (who really expected otherwise?) then I have to question Berlusconi's and Galliani's perception of reality. Worst of all they don't seem to have learned anything from it.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 4:35pm
I have to say, I find the attitude of the pundits somewhat irritating. From what I can tell, the phrasing of their questions was unfair and offensive, and of course now that the interview is over, they're making use of their position in the media to continue taking lumps out of Balotelli. If he isn't a world class player, I don't know why he's being badgered about why he isn't a world class player. It's rude.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 4:30pm
Balo does not come close to the skills of a Totti or Del Piero or even Cassano except maybe for his powerful shot. He does not have the instincts of a great striker like a Tevez or Aguero or even Immobile, not big enough to be a central attacker like Toni or Dzeko. What Balo is a good athlete that runs well and has a good shot and has some passing skills. He can become an above average player but nowhere near Ronaldo or Messi. Balo is a drama queen because he thinks highly of himself.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 4:03pm
@Anonymous

Considering were going to get twice as much for him after the wc no, we did a good deal signing him. I'm tired of him, even though he got great skills and sometimes is mind-blowing he shows no consistency. I prefer how for a good recovery by ses and use him next season, sell balo for $25 and sadly thanks kaka for he return but realize him to msl and get a solid fast trequarista.

Clearly our defense needs to be revamp as its so bad. release bonera, muntari, mexes and constant.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 3:41pm
BOBAN'S MILAN, first season:
Defense: Baresi, Costacurta, Maldini, Tassotti.
Midfield: Albertini, Donadoni, Gullit, Rijkaard
Forwards: Van Basten, Simone, Serena

BOBAN'S last season: Maldini, Costacurta, Coco, Roque Junior, Leonardo, Gattuso, Albertini, Shevchenko, Bierhoff.

Boban needs to shut his mouth. Balo may not be mature, but Milan are a joke of a club this season. Balo's the only reason they're not being demoted this year.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 3:02pm
I'm a Juve fan, but I have to say these critics and articles thrown-out about Balo are so overblown and just getting old and enough already. Balo is a character. Always will be, and may not be how you want him to be. He's constantly criticized and the criticism is out of proportion to his 'acts'. He's a character, and we need characters in football - that's not a problem. A striker of his abilities needs a high-quality cast behind him in order to see his best - how he's fine with the azzurri.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 3:02pm
I am always saddened when I see someone lucky enough to blessed with unworldly football talent but who doesn't appreciate it. It's his choice to be a legend or an "also played". I wonder what Cassano's opinion is.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 2:54pm
It shows he's not happy with his performance. He needs to channel that anger into improving his game and then maybe one day he can be world class. In the meantime his 14 goals in 27 matches is a decent return. His poor performances in big matches is not. Finally spare a thought for set pieces. They're an effective of scoring in away matches. If I see Milan take another short corner I might have to go a buy a new TV. WE ARE GIVING UP A FREE CROSS INTO THE BOX! Now that's an analysis of a match.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 2:50pm
Other than Balo's disastrous attempt to win a penalty the other time I screamed at the TV was when Honda picked up the ball on the right took one touch, then two touches, then three, four, five and still no cross. Seriously? How about one touch and in? Its the advantage of being left footed on the right. Balo? Poor movement, poor touches and not particularly great attitude. Seedorf made the right decision to take him off. Good to see the anger in the post-match interview.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 2:45pm
Emanuelson! Muntari picked up his 11th yellow card of the season and did very little else. Monty. What has happened to Monty? Personally I think he's suffered from the decision to let Ambro go to one of our rivals. Kaka didn't really do very much. This is a former world class player who offered very little. Possibly the media should be talking about how an actual former world class player has failed to perform in some big games. Roma dealt with Taarabt very effectively. He takes too many touches
on the 26th April, 2014 at 2:41pm
As for Milan. Some serious concerns still about Seedorf's selections. He seems to have settled on a CB pairing of Mexes and Rami. Neither are particularly solid. Rami plays out too much and Mexes is well Mexes (always prone to errors or indiscipline or both). Bonera at right back is more out of harms way but offers very little going forward. Abate for all his defence weaknesses offers more going forward. Constant is a shadow of the player he was last season.Never a great defender but better than
on the 26th April, 2014 at 2:37pm
As Balo said himself (great interview by the way very insightful) if Milan win everyone says Balo is amazing and if Milan lose everyone blames Balo. Not really much analysis then. So lets try some analysis (there were another 21 players on the pitch and 2 managers). So lets start with Roma. What a team and what a turnaround from last season. Really solid defence, some great triangles in the middle of the park and that bit of creative spark in the last third. Milan could learn so much from this.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 2:34pm
In fact this whole debate is a non-issue. Balo is not Milan's main problem as I keep saying. Our main problem is our defence and midfield. Now I'm sure the media and all the Balo obsessives on here would love to see Balo sold this summer (I note FT didn't waste any time spreading nonsense rumours about Monaco) and then we'd be in exactly the same place again with a crap defence and who knows upfront. Adebayor maybe?
on the 26th April, 2014 at 2:30pm
Wow lots of comments on already. This is so boring. The headline of the article is wrong as well. It should read "Enough Milan alibis". So Balo had a very poor match and gave a crappy interview. So that's why Milan lost! His interview apart from being mildly amusing gave one very interesting insight. He doesn't think he's world class. So all you Balo obsessives can stop saying he's not world class because he says it himself. Its a non-issue.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 2:25pm
Yes Balo is a joker in the pack. As an Italy fan, I love the guy in tournament play but for league play, he's a real problem.

To be fair though, Milan's team is ordinary. At a Juve or Roma, there'd be more quality around him and not so much focus. The guy is obviously high strung and the right environment is important if you want a consistent season.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 2:20pm
@this is silly, poor conduct aside; Suarez has been excellent on the pitch for many years. His hunger, consistency, & work-rate are light years ahead of Balotelli's. He puts 100% into every shift and his movement is outstanding. I cannot say the same things for about Balotelli, just the opposite.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 1:03pm
@sandro
Every striker scores the odd goal here and there! Iv waited we have waited 4 years and all I hear is ppl defending him coz he scored 2 goals against germany! Where was he in the final? Or where were the goals against england? So you hightlight hes great at diving scoring a penalty and free kick- wel pirlo, monto, insigne can all do the dead ball stuff, so no need to bring him. Whist we wait and wait for him to possibly live up to the hype- immob and destro are legt at home- thats wrong!
on the 26th April, 2014 at 1:01pm
@this is silly
Boban and panucci are just 2 that have now been highlighted due to his stupidity last night, but there is an endless list of ppl who know about football who all say exactly the same thing. How long can we blame the rest of the team? How long can you blame a manager or the fans?? Hes useless and lazy. If wed spent the last 4 years wrapping immobile and destro in cotton wool and wasting the man time milan and italy have on balo wed have 2 much better strikers instead of him!
on the 26th April, 2014 at 12:57pm
I watched last night Balo's performance, and it was very frustating for me as milanisti! But after that, I suddenly realize that Balo had saved Milan (and Italy)in many occasions too! Last minute penalty, brilliant free-kick, stunning goal.. And for Italy the performance againts Ireland and the Germany in EURO 2012. Also He has already scored 14 goals this season.

Then I conclude that Balo is a Joker, sometimes good, sometimes bad. But when will the Joker turn into an Ace? I hope it will.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 12:37pm
Didn't Inter and man City do well to sell him for all that money?
on the 26th April, 2014 at 12:23pm
Balo has not completely settled as a professional footballer, this is true. Neither did Suarez until 2014. But the criticism I've been hearing from friends, football fans, pundits seems to carry a personal bite to it. The pundit said to him "you don't run enough". Unprofessional and offensive. The pundit, Panucci and Boban have been trashing him all season. That's not how you get the best out of a player. They get too personal with him. It's sad to watch.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 12:13pm
Balotelli contradicted himself last night. He said that he wasn't a top player, yet how many times has he said "only Messi & Ronaldo are better than me". He is a good player, but has some serious holes in his game and a bad attitude. We have been saying the same things since he first burst on the scene with Inter, sadly nothing looks like changing. I wouldn't take him to Brazil as I think that we have better & more reliable options.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 11:57am
Balotelli is the best striker in the serie A but people annoy him because it's his weak spot so his form drops, it's the people's fault.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 11:56am
Those type of guys need people like Materazzi, or better yet Bobo Vieri to play alongside in the attack, so all the answers he would hear are punches and kicks.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 11:52am
I don't agree that Balo is worthless, he just needs to get his act together, he has been woderful for Milan too!
on the 26th April, 2014 at 11:51am
I didn't see the game last night so can't comment. I have seen Balotelli play quite a few times live and for Italia and I was always impressed by his speed and touch and strength. It is such a shame he can't be consistent and level in his performances.
He can be formidable - recall the way he battered Deutschland in the Euros - but the inconsistency is frustrating. Prandelli has a difficult decision to make. I would take him but I would also be sure to have a clear plan B
on the 26th April, 2014 at 11:43am
Susy you're overstating the issue. Balotelli and Pjanic have two vastly different teams to work with. They're both brilliant talents, but you say that Pjanic demonstrated leadership and tactical intelligence as if playing on one of EUROPE'S best teams doesn't factor into his performance. Balotelli's Milan is disturbingly average and week in week out appear to have no distinct game plan. Balotelli is alone! And he still has 14 goals! The criticism is unwarranted.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 11:40am
It's time prandelli opens up his eyes, and leave balotelli at home for the next world cup. Yes, he's talented.. but considering his performances lately, it's not fair to put him in front of immobile, cerci, destro, cassano, and even... giovinco, who rarely played but gave it all when played.. and rossi who just got back from injury, but is willing to fight on the field.

Talent is not enough, azzurri need players with the correct attitude. Let balotelli learn his lesson.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 11:11am

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