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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...
I too was struck by a contrast between Pjanic and Balotelli – the latter couldn't pull something out of nothing the way the former did – but I also think he is the least of Milan's problems right now. I don't believe Seedorf should have been hired in the first place, but I think replacing him in the summer would be an even bigger mistake now, especially if it means replacing him with Inzaghi who scarcely has any more experience. If that happens, Milan will be going the way of Palermo.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 11:26am
He proves my point week in and week out, more and more ppl are realising what a waste of time he is and actually asking questions about what all the noise is about regarding this average at best 'striker'. Hes lazy, useless, disrespectful. Lets see how great prandelli is at holding his code of ethics now.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 10:58am
Sadly i agree . The boy is in risk of becoming a clown. he recons he is more loved in other countries. Well ask your average Premier league supporter. Took my son to see him when Man City played Swansea. Sulked all through the game. My nine year old is more grown up. There can be no more excuses. A spoiled brat is a spoiled brat. Yes italia need him but which Balo will turn up. If its the spoilt child we will be on our way home fast. How many clubs and managers has he gone through.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 10:45am
Excellent blog!
on the 26th April, 2014 at 10:41am

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