Football has changed so much in the last 20 years that the game has become unrecognizable to some. Those in question will remember the good old days where fans could really relate to the players that represented them on the pitch. It wasn’t about the money, it was about honour, hard work, playing for your shirt, not shying away from a tackle and rolling with the punches – traits that fans could relate to because they mirrored their working lives.
Don’t get me wrong, there has always been a bit of distance between player and fan, but now the gulf is wider than ever at the top level. The worlds top players are living out people’s wildest dreams as they drive around in their super cars, own giant houses, property portfolio’s, boats and race horses – money is not even an issue – in this economic climate how can today’s football fan relate. This is the kind of lifestyle that previously only the world’s most successful businessmen could afford, but now these roles have reversed as modern businessmen, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, shun this flashy existence that some footballers seem to revel in, but are resented for.
Mario Balotelli is a professional footballer that many consider to be the epitome of everything that is wrong with football today – a representative of the cancer that has infected the beautiful game. On the pitch he has become a liability that even the City fans have started to turn on. Off the pitch the tabloids now know Balotelli stories sell papers so now more than ever we see what he gets up to, it all seemed so much fun until his football started to suffer.
On his day Balotelli can be amazing, but more often than not he makes poor decisions that overshadow his talent. In recent weeks Balotelli has shown the type of liability that he can be, the type that can cost a team a title. His red card against Arsenal wasn’t a shock to anyone, bookies bank accounts would have been rinsed for those quick enough to bet in-play that he would be sent off, it was worryingly obvious – his bad behaviour is now expected.
His fellow players and Roberto Mancini have defended Balotelli on more than one occasion, but everyone’s patience has worn thin, talent only gets you so far. Mario Balotelli has said “I want to be judged for what I do on the field” but sometimes on the field can be as turbulent for Mario as his life off it. The Alex Song tackle during the Arsenal match showed just how reckless he can be.
Away from football Balotelli is never far from the headlines and has now created a rod for his own back. He says he is “a shy and simple guy”, but he seems to actively seek attention and has bought the media circus on himself with his antics. If he isn’t taking up the fire brigades time with outdoor fireworks indoors, then he is singlehandedly funding Manchester City Council in clocking up enough parking ticket fines to fund his own chauffeur. Super Mario’s £140k Bentley is the symbol of this young man’s wealth, but more his lack of responsibility and professionalism, he simply choses to live by a different set of rules to the rest of us, both in life and also at Manchester City.
Balotelli does not answer to anyone, even Mourinho struggled to tame him whilst he was at Inter, but Balotelli continues to be forgiven for his misdemeanors. In the last two weeks Balotelli publicly confessed to sleeping with a prostitute, but his girlfriend didn’t mind, saying it was ok because ‘he always comes back to me’. What planet is she on? Sadly there seem to be no consequences harsh enough to make Balotelli take responsibility for his actions.
Balotelli has gone the worst way that a youngster with the world at his feet and bags of money can…he has lost touch with reality.
Saying that there is something endearing about Mr Balotelli. I for one like the way he tries to live a normal life despite his celebrity by strolling around Manchester, going to pubs (but not drinking) and trying to have fun – afteralll he is a 21-year-old millionaire, what would you do? Balotelli sticks two-fingers up to the serious industry that football has become, he injects some fun and at least shows a bit of personality rather than a finely tuned robot’s we are used to seeing who know how to perform to the clubs beat when it comes to the media.
Balotelli is like the good kid turned bad, in today’s society this could be down to something like gang culture or falling in with the wrong crowd, for Balotelli it is having to cope with fame and the riches that come with it. The media escalate any story that involves him, and he needs to wise up about this like he needs to wise up on the pitch – he is naïve, but arrogant enough to not take heed to advice like any young twentysomething. Balotelli has found out the basic principles of being a celebrity football in England: people can’t get enough of you when you are doing well on the pitch and doing what you want in your personal life, but as soon as those on pitch performances change, you become a target.
I can see why Balotelli is turning in to modern day marmite; he is portrayed as a careless, flashy, arrogant and brazen individual both on and off the pitch, a image that goes down like a fart in a lift in this country. For me Mario Balotelli is a combination of Silvio Berlusconi and Paul Gascoigne – living life conforming to rules that limit his fun is not an option, he wants to enjoy himself at all times despite his responsibilities and the consequences. But when all is said and done, as floored as he maybe, I know one thing…the Premier League and English football would be a lot more boring without him.
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