Mario Balotelli: Overrated waste of space or mismanaged talent?

Mario Balotelli: Overrated waste of space or mismanaged talent?

Balotelli looks at Mancini while being subbed against Man Utd

Yesterday’s Manchester derby may well prove to be the pivotal moment that Manchester United effectively won the Premier League come May, having grabbed a late 3-2 win in a superb game at The Etihad.

On a hugely disappointing afternoon for Manchester City the selection, and subsequent performance, of one man has made the headlines: Mario Balotelli.

Mario Balotelli looks at Mancini while being subbed against Man Utd

Roberto Mancini gave the young Italian a huge vote of confidence by selecting him ahead of Carlos Tevez but Balotelli let his manager, teammates and supporters down hugely. He looked disinterested, ineffective and lazy during his 51 minutes on the pitch, and when Tevez did replace him he transformed the shape and threat of the side.

He did everything Balotelli failed to do, from working hard to linking up with Sergio Aguero. Had the relentless Argentinian started the game the result may well have been very different, and you could even go so far as to say that Mario Balotelli’s pathetic performance may have a huge bearing on costing his side the title.

The 22 year old’s eccentric personality and lifestyle have seen him become one of the most popular players in the Premier League, but on the pitch he is simply not that good. He doesn’t score many goals, isn’t creative, has a poor work rate and his general influence is fairly non-existent. He has been built up as some kind of world-beater without ever really proving himself on a consistent basis.

Over the years there have been truly great players who can get away with having a poor attitude, simply because they are such special talents and have won so many games single handedly over the years. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic spring to mind, and Balotelli is not even remotely close to their level, and never will be.

Tired or just lethargic?

For some strange reason many people see Mario Balotelli as an extraordinary footballer who has as much ability as anyone. What is this based on? He’s not even in the top five players at his own club. When has he ever done something really special, winning City a game in the process?

Edin Dzeko is not talked about anywhere near as much as Balotelli, but his match-winning cameos and influence make him the far better player of the two. Any striker who looks more likely to be sent off than score a goal is not worth persevering with.

People seem to forget that Balotelli’s sending off at Arsenal late last season was actually the moment City’s season turned around for the better. His suspension meant that Tevez came back into the side, helping them win their remaining six games and the title.

There is no doubt in my mind that if Balotelli had not been sent off at the Emirates they would never have won the league. He is a luxury player, not one who wins you trophies.

Martin Atkinson issues red for the knee-high tackle on Alex Song last season

I hold my hands up and admit that I find the various stories about his private life entertaining, and as a person he seems likeable enough, but once he is on a football pitch he becomes a poisonous, destructive presence. This has to be what he is judged on before any tales of firework displays in bathrooms and dressing up as Santa Claus in Manchester.

At 22 he is still a very young player who can use the ‘lack of maturity’ joker card, but the feeling is he will never mature into anything other than a moody, inconsistent liability who can produce something a bit special once in a blue moon. I doubt the Premier League will see him for much longer.

Follow me on twitter @henryjackson87 and go to to check out more of my work.

Change of style suits Torres
Modern-day sporting legends face-off: Lio Messi v Kobe Bryant


  1. If you watch the game you wouldn’t ask this question, outside of that one pass, Mario was having a very good game. however, that said, in a way I blame this on city…I don’t know if you know this but Mario became a father for the first time, and wasn’t allowed to leave and see his child, I don’t know about you but that would have affected me in a negative manner. I am not shocked that his heart wasn’t in the game…would city had pull this stunt if this was Joe Heart or Silva, I am betting they would have let them at lease go and see the child before the game! Just food for thought!

  2. Ooops, to answer your question, I think he is badly managed, if you need proof of this, watch him with Italy!

  3. How was he having a very good game? Name me 5 good things he did. The best thing he did was hit a shot about 50 yards over the bar in the 1st half.

    There are young footballers everywhere in the world who have to deal with family issues like fatherhood and not being able to see them so that is just a weak, weak excuse.

    Of course it’s not an ideal situation and it’s going to affect you a bit, but are you telling me the other 21 players on that pitch didn’t have personal issues of their own? He has a shocking attitude.

  4. Mario is well overrated by Mancini, probably because of his 1 good performance at the Euros.This season he’s had more league appearances than Dzeko while scoring less than any of the other striking options.

    Although, of the strikers he is most composed under pressure.

  5. I think mario is a very good player who does not friends in the team, but Mancini does not see that. Man City lost the game because they were not working together.

  6. “When has he ever done something really special, winning City a game in the process?”

    How about when provided the assist for Sergio Aguero’s title winning goal at the last seconds of the season?

  7. I cant remember the last time he actually scored a goal?. He is just one of those players that is more famous off the pitch rather than on it, the media rather write about him for his antics off the pitch. Mancini cant control him either.

  8. Purdman- A five yards pass is not a special moment. Fair play to him for finding Aguero but not exactly special. I’m talking about a 30 yard strike of an amazing pass to set up a goal.

  9. I’ve been watching Balotelli play long before he came to the PL and this kid is not a “waste of space” It puzzles me when people who are suppose to be football enthusiast cant see that not every player, no matter how great he is fits in every system. For example …Fernando Tores, he didn’t suddenly forget how to score goals, his skills just doesn’t mesh well with Chelsea’s style, which is whats going on with Mario. I’m sure everyone would say Tores is way more skill full than Drogba..who is my favourite striker of all times but he will never score as many goals as him as long as he plays for Chelsea. Mario likes the ball at his feet or he likes to receive long passes or crosses in the box and that’s just not how Man City plays, they play a poor man’s version of the “tiki taka” Mario; like Drogba, Ibrahimovic, Berbatov, Ruud van Nistelrooy…these type of players slow the game down they are traditional old school #9 strikers, the ones that require a lot of crosses in the box. Drogba would not score as many goals as he did playing for Chelsea if he played and Man City.

    So, its not that the kid isn’t good, I really feel like this is not a good fit for him. Think about this….Can you see Ronaldo playing for Barcelona…?

Comments are closed.