Balotelli back to bonkers form - much to relief of tabloids

Balotelli

Man City's 'maverick hitman' has reportedly clashed with Roberto Mancini over smoking and partying

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 11:08 ON Thu 20 Sep 2012

IT'S BEEN a while but it appears Mario Balotelli is back in the bad books of Roberto Mancini. Since arriving at Manchester City in the summer of 2010, the Italian striker has managed to pull off an impressive juggling act: entertaining fans and enraging his manager.

Balotelli starred for Italy in the summer European Championships, but he has been disappointingly quiet of late - going off message as far as living up to his ‘bonkers’ tag is concerned. But according to the Daily Star the 22-year-old Balotelli has been banished to the naughty step after “another bust-up” with Mancini.

Balotelli allegedly left his boss “fuming” after being caught partying into the wee small hours of Sunday following City’s 1-1 draw against Stoke on Saturday. The Star says Mancini had issued express instructions to his players, ordering them to “rest” ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Spain to face Real Madrid in their Champions League opener, a game the Sky Blues lost 3-2.

The Star says that Mancini and Balotelli “clashed” at the start of the week and Mancini made it clear he was dropping the youngster from the squad as a penalty for his Sunday morning shindig. If that wasn’t punishment enough for Balotelli – described by the Star as a “maverick hitman” – he was forced to travel to Madrid and sit on the sidelines and watch as his teammates squandered a 2-1 lead.

Balotelli is now back in Britain but the Star says Mancini is still on his case. The iron-fisted Italian manager is allegedly demanding Balotelli quits smoking, but so far he’s refusing to undergo hypnosis in an attempt to wean him off the weed.

The paper quotes a City source – anonymous, as they invariably are – as saying: “Mario Balotelli is in the bad books on two fronts – a very late night out after the Stoke game and his refusal to stop smoking. He and Mancini had words on Monday afternoon and it led to him being dropped from the squad.”

Balotelli’s behaviour is a welcome return to form after a period of relative calm that was beginning to cause alarm among some sections of the tabloid press. Nevertheless the Italian forward will be hard-pressed to reproduce the same dazzling form he displayed last season. Back then Balotelli was on fire – literally, on the occasion he held a firework display in his bathroom – prompting Mancini to admit he might have to get rid of the striker.

He didn’t, to the relief of the rest of us, though will Mancini come to rue his indulgence? Only time – and perhaps Guy Fawkes night – will tell. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.