WHY ALWAYS ME?
Your week-by-week guide to the Premier League’s most captivating character…
This week’s Balometer: “What a week he’s had…
A day in the life of Mario Balotelli is never dull. Once again the eye-catching (or attention-seeking) maverick dominated the headlines this week after his stamp on Scott Parker’s head during Manchester City’s 3-2 victory over Tottenham last weekend. Balotelli received a four-match ban for his petulance, which has sparked scores of debates this week over whether the Italian striker deserved the ban or not.
Despite the FA ruling that Balotelli intended to cause harm to Parker, Balotelli’s agent has still fervently defended the player and even suggested that there is favoritism towards English players in the Premier League. He told Italian reporters: "I want to be balanced but I'm worried because when English players are involved in more serious things, nothing happens, whereas when foreigners are involved, such as Balotelli or Kompany, they were treated harder…He feels he is being judged more harshly than the rest by the referees. It's clear whatever he does… maybe other people get away with it.”
The scale of reaction after the incident was undoubtedly heightened by the fact that it was Scott Parker – a popular player amongst English fans who arguably epitomises the role of an honest, hardworking and hard-tackling central midfielder – who was on the receiving end of Balotelli’s stamp. Had it been Joey Barton on the receiving end of Balotelli’s boot, the only plausible reason for the FA brandishing him with a four-game ban would be down to the Italian’s inability to have struck a cleaner, more direct blow.
One day, perhaps, the tabloids and broadsheets may advocate both their front and back pages to celebrate Balotelli’s knighthood or the founding of ‘Balotelli Day’ – a national bank holiday. And the Queen may even start to give out handfuls of cash whilst stopping at schools to use the lavatory as a mark of respect to the Italian.
But whilst some of us can envisage those events occurring one day, I am more than certain that they will not happen over the coming weeks and months. And the stamping incident has increased speculation that Balotelli will leave the Manchester outfit this summer. His agent, though, was quick to quash such rumors, saying: "He would love to stay in the Premier League for a long time and won't move this transfer window, for sure. It's not our intention, let that be clear. Mario doesn't want to leave the club. It's fantastic, he loves it and feels at home.”
But Mario’s agent was also equally quick to assert his player’s discontent with how he feels he has been treated on the pitch recently: “if every week some referee (shows a yellow or red card) with Mario, maybe you say, 'That's enough' and he goes to another country.”
The Premier League would lose one of its most entertaining characters if Balotelli were to leave and fans, players and managers alike would undoubtedly miss him. However, the one thing that Balotelli needs to learn in order to ensure that he is not forced out of England is realise what most of us think about on-the-pitch actions such as stamping: there is no place for it in our game.