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Commentary Jul 25, 2011

Mario Balotelli’s idiocy proves Roberto Mancini’s brilliance [updated: Whistle?]

By Chris Hummer

Have you ever coached or played with a gifted player who was so damn cocky they destroyed team chemistry, cost the team games and angered others, all while failing to take any of the blame themselves? You know, the ones who keep right on getting the starting nod or play more than they really deserve — which in a lot of cases should be absolutely no playing time at all.

Italian striker Mario Balotelli is clearly just such idiot, and he completely proved it to any final doubters recently while playing an exhibition game for England’s Manchester City against the L.A. Galaxy. Then his coach — sorry, “manager” — Roberto Mancini proved his own brilliance by not hesitating a single second to pull said idiot off the field and get into it with him in front of fans and TV cameras. My hero. Love this video:

I love this video for more than the fact that it proves Mancini has his head on straight. I love it for the very public example it sets for players and coaches everywhere. It is a beacon on a hill in a professional sports landscape that too often rewards flamboyant egos with attendance and ratings.

While some coaches falsely embrace ego and self-promotion as a sign of the necessary “swagger” needed to become truly great, the best realize when it’s too much, and they either sort them out, or dump them. Mancini appears to be just such a coach, and my hat is off to him.

I would not be surprised if Balotelli is done at Man City completely, or at least on the bench for an extended period of time. When you get a lecture about doing the right thing on the field by Holland hatchet man Nigel de Jong, thing things have to be pretty bad. If he comes back, I hope he’s finally eaten enough humble pie to start consistently capitalizing on his immense talent while leaving the idiocy behind in Hollywood, where most of the world’s biggest over-paid fools live.

[Update: Though fan comments around the web on this now-hot topic are suggesting Balotelli thought he heard a whistle, Mancini isn’t buying it, telling reporters in a post game press conference that “..Mario is streetwise, he knows he was not offside.”]