RANT: Why the Media Treatment of Mario Balotelli is Disgraceful

8 Nov

This is a guest post by Howard Hockin, part of the award-nominated BlueMoon podcast and author of This Is How It Felt To Be City, now available on Kindle.

Why am I doing this? I promised myself that I would walk away, ignore the doomsayers, I would rise above the bile, I would concentrate on the football. It was boring when I wrote about him two weeks ago, and yet here I am again, talking yet again about HIM. How many times can I go through this Groundhog Day routine, peddling the same complaints, using the same swear words, spitting repeatedly into the wind?

Are any of you still there?

But talking about him I am. Or more to the point, and this is the “inspiration” for another article, other people are still talking about him. You know which player I am talking about.

Last Saturday, due to illness/injury/the credit crunch/a phobia of loud bangs, I found myself watching City at home, on ESPN. Jon Champion was to be my guide for the night, and his initial comments, “bigging-up” a lit-up Upton Park and some strained analogy involving bubbles was my first indication it was going to be a long night.

Champion was in collusion though with another unnamed man. This was the man operating the camera that panned to the bench every now and then. And by every now and then, I mean of course for most of the match.

It was just as well there were no goals, as the camera would have probably missed them, dedicated as it was to monitoring every movement of Roberto Mancini. I watched him gesticulate, I watched him mutter, I watched him stand up, sit down, slouch in his seat. I watched him eat a whole pack of Fruit Pastilles. If there had been a toilet-cam, I’d have no doubt seen him have a s**t too.

Balotelli fails to control a pass. Pan to Mancini. Balotelli shoots wide. Pan to Mancini. Balotelli looks moody. Pan to Mancini. Balotelli adjusts a sock. Pan to…well, you get the drift.

And all the time, we have the soundtrack to this desperate attempt to create a story, willingly provided by Champion. Snide comment after snide comment, suggesting disharmony in the ranks, a troubled relationship, an accident waiting to happen. Oh look, Mancini is YET AGAIN giving Balotelli instructions on the touchline. Time to stir that pot once more. What could he be telling him? Let’s idly speculate, and fear the worse.

“Hey Mario, you terrible striker, I hate your shooting. Your mamma she smells, and she make terrible pasta.”

And then, the inevitable Balotelli substitution. Dzeko surely merited being whipped off more than the mercurial Italian, but never mind. Balotelli had been wasteful in front of goal, along with all of the City team. He had played OK, and that was that.
“Let’s monitor the Italian’s reaction,” squealed Champion, in eager anticipation. OH. JUST. F***. OFF.

The camera lingered long and hard on the touchline as he wandered off, and took his seat. Damn, no storming down the tunnel. Obviously he would have done had it been a home match. Hang on a minute, look at the aggressive manner in which he is putting on his coat. Camera 2, keep on Balotelli. Is he muttering something? Jon, say that’s he’s muttering something. Try and mention Italy, and fireworks. Try to zoom out to show Mancini. Hold it. Keep filming. What, we’ve missed a goal and a red card? Ah, bugger.

And that was that. An honest, yet dedicated attempt at a hatchet job by ESPN that sadly failed. Better luck next time, eh?

But no. That wasn’t that. Wrote Alan Hansen in the Telegraph:

“…here we are again talking about Mario Balotelli spitting his dummy out after being substituted at West Ham.”

No we’re not, Alan. What “we” are doing is watching you continue your incessant, bile-filled campaign against Mario Balotelli. No one is talking about a Balotelli spat except you. There was no dummy spat out, no bust-up, no story. As football365.com pointed out, this continued story of bust-ups is boring even when Balotelli does something stupid – when the press start fabricating stories, it becomes something altogether more sinister.

Mike Walters over at The Mirror continued the theme, in a match report under the headline “Surly Kings: Mancini and Balotelli swap knees-up for bust-up in the East End”.

Mario Balotelli collected his customary bonfire night accolade from Roberto Mancini – a rocket up the arsonist.

Now you have to admit, those last four words are side-splittingly hilarious. The punning skills of Tim Vine, with the eloquence of Wilde, and the style of Keats. I won’t bore you with the other 85 tedious firework analogies, but be warned, even after that pitiful start, the report gets much worse.

“The great pyromaniac chuntered sweet nothings behind his manager’s back in the dugout after being hooked for squandering two simple chances.”

That’s it. There’s the bust-up story in all its glory. And yes, substitutes and the substituted do tend to sit behind the manager’s back, you stupid piece of ****.

There was no love lost between City boss Mancini and Balotelli.

<sobs gently>

Between their dismissive hand gestures and dark muttering, there were more sparks and sour aftertaste than that Tommy Cooper gag about police collaring two kids who swallowed battery acid and a firework: they charged one and let the other off.

Is this a wind-up???!!

I could go on, but you’ve probably all gone by now anyway. There is only one solution to this.

Please sell Balotelli, Mr Mancini. I can’t take another three years of this. I’m not getting any younger, and I need the circus to go. It’s outstayed its welcome – the grass has long worn away, there’s a funny smell, and people have started acting really strangely. Many of the press don’t seem to like you either Roberto, so I’m afraid you’ll have to go too. It’s for the best. We’ll get Harry Redknapp in, he can bring a good,honest striker like Jermain Defoe with him, and everyone can love us again. and we can fight for glory despite a lack of tactics and Harry being down to the bare bones. No hard feelings eh? It’s for the best.

11 Responses to “RANT: Why the Media Treatment of Mario Balotelli is Disgraceful”

  1. Robbo 08/11/2012 at 10:06 pm #

    I say the same thing on twitter all the time. Find a stream online with no commentary and, above all, if watching highlight shows, switch over when the ‘pundits’ are on. I now only watch the City TV highlights, as they are more detailed and evenly balanced. I dont watch motd and i dont watch ESPN. I will watch us on goals on sunday as they are generally fair. I dont read newspapers and i only follow newsnow links to City pages. My blood pressure is now much better!

  2. Siamack 08/11/2012 at 10:33 pm #

    Brilliant article. Most media are quite frankly out there to trash-talk City with slightest and faintest excuse they get. And unfortunately Mancini and Super-Mario seem to be an easy target for their garbage. Since day 1 Mancini arrived, they have depicted him as a Champions League failure who is in danger of losing his job due to dressing room unrest, ex-Barcelona employees’ plotting, unconditional support of super-mario, conflict with Marwood, or even when his team performance does not live up to expectations of these so-called brilliant journalists and so on and so forth …

    All I can say , despite my occasional frustration, I know they are full of s..t and I am 100% behind the Club, the manager and Super-Mario and I have no doubt that the majority of City fans think the same.

  3. RICHARD 08/11/2012 at 11:04 pm #

    I’m a United fan so I suppose that I shouldn’t be entering this discussion but I feel compelled to do so.
    Simply put, the article and the comments are spot on. Now if we are honest, we would accept that Mario can do the strangest things at times but there is no questioning his talent, because he is a fantastic footballer. Mancini, is a bit of a pill at times but less we forget, he has just won the EPL and City will be right there at the end of the 2012-13 season. The British football press attempt to positon themselves as experts yet they don’t have much of a clue and with the exception of Neville and very few others, the pundits find it difficult not to infuse their bias.

  4. peter 09/11/2012 at 12:05 am #

    lol hahahahahahah harry redknapp omg ive heard it all from u english what in gods world has harry redknapp won in his manger career lol didn’t know bringing a team to champions league one time or getting relegated would make u a prolific top manager plz gave me a break redknapp lol he will just do same thing hughes did when he was city coach mid table club with a bunch of english players like gareth barry that doesn’t even know how to make a 5 yard pass that gives ball away 70 percent of the time like against ajax on Tues. so before u make ridiculous remarks about replacing mancini with redknapp lol plz go to school and learn more about the game bc u clearly don’t know much about football last time i checked almost every italian thats managed the premier league has actually won it and harry redknapp has won what lol…….. oh yah nothing lol tryn to compare redknapp to mancini lol wake up

  5. Lee 09/11/2012 at 2:12 am #

    I guess you missed the sarcastic humour re. Redknapp in the last paragraph……he wasn’t being serious!!
    I like most blues I know refuse to watch Match of the Day or read the rag biased press anymore,let them have their pathetic little vendetta against the club!!
    We as fans need to concentrate on getting behind the team and try to generate a decent atmosphere in our home games,it’s been nothing but garbage lately!!

  6. Viktor 09/11/2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Write an article about the spurs game and tell the city supporters to applaud Emmanuel Adebayor, I’m getting sick of supporters who hates their players when they leave, city should be a club where all the players/ ex-players feel the love from the supporters!

    • Siamack 09/11/2012 at 3:19 pm #

      You have loyal player like Shaun Wright-Phillips who says “once a Blue always a blue” in an interview after leaving the club . And I can assure you all City fans form all walks of life applaud and still see him as a Blue and regard in the highest respect. And you have low life mercenary whose sole purpose is to suck the club’s money as much as he can before he leaves like Adebayor. I guess what you are missing is the “context”.

      • Viktor 09/11/2012 at 7:36 pm #

        I’m not an idiot, players like Richard Dunne and Wright-Phillips will always be one of us, but adebayor still did a good job but mancini froze him out just as he has done with a lot of players, city should make friends and not enemies, we have a small reason to “boo” him but much bigger reason to cheer him..

        • Siamack 09/11/2012 at 8:01 pm #

          My point was that City fans should not be welcoming to him much like the way they are when you have Shaun playing against City. As far as booing is concerned, only simple minded people do that. Ade is a nobody and he should be ignored much like a nobody

  7. Alicia 09/11/2012 at 12:28 pm #

    I don’t think there is one premier league player that when substituted is happy about it, if they are then there is something innately wrong with them in my opinion, but why they consistently only focus on mario I will never know!! Hansen is dreadful as a pundit, as a journalist and as a human. ESPN coverage is dreadful.

  8. Ryan 10/11/2012 at 10:56 pm #

    Wow this is awesome, agree completely

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