by Daisy Cutter
The press and general public would have us believe that Mario Balotelli is as erratic as a box of frogs, a player willing to ignore the chance of a simple tap-in in favour of buying a trampoline from John Lewis, transporting it via a herd of magic unicorns, and attempting an audacious overhead kick from it while wearing a funny hat.
In reality the Italian is as predictable as they come. He arrives at a club to excitable fanfare and leaves to muted relief and in the meantime offers little but cheap laughs and a lot of grief.
I use the word ‘grief’ purposely because with the maddening one surely in the departures lounge at John Lennon airport now seems as good a time as any to air a long-standing theory – that Balotelli’s stay at any club mirrors that of the seven stages of grieving. Sceptical? Liverpool supporters won’t be as they are finally at the acceptance phase…..
“Don’t worry Mario, it’s me and you against the world mate. In fact, let’s get a t-shirt knocked up with ‘Why Always Us’ printed on it? The media may have it in for you but that’s because you’re just too big a character for little old England. Opposing fans and THAT TREACHEROUS TWAT two seats down from me may think you’re woefully over-rated but they don’t see the genius in you. I do. It would pore out of you if you actually sweated you cool-as-fuck bastard.”
“You’re two seasons away from winning the Ballon D’Or pal. I’m sure of it.
Then they’ll be sorry.”
“For fuck’s sake Mario, just play the simple ball! He was clean through and you tried a back-heel flick?!”
“Oh God I am pathetic. Here you are trying to elevate the sport to another realm and I complain like one of the squares. I really need to shake off this orthodox thinking that’s been programmed into me by growing up on Kerry Dixon and Mark Hateley. Okay so they combined their talent with graft and actually ran around a bit but that’s just luddite English fare. You’re trying something different. Something spectacular.”
“I appreciate you trying and I’m so sorry. Please don’t think less of me. I’m not a SQUARE! I really rated Ibrahimovic when he was young and lazy just like you”
Anger and bargaining
“For fuck’s sake Mario, just play the simple ball! He was clean through and you tried yet another back-heel flick?! No, no, don’t roll around. He barely touched you and the ref’s not a complete moron!”
“Aagh why have you FALLEN OVER AGAIN?!! There was no-one within four miles of you so WHY ARE YOU HOLDING YOUR FACE?!!”
“Yes, that’s it. That’s more like it son. Run into that channel. Good lad. Hey, two seats down, did you see that? He just ran a bit”.
“Oh God he’s starting again. It’s like being a man down from the opening whistle.”
The upward turn
“Get in there!! What a beauty!! Top corner with the outside of your boot. Boom. Last minute too! All is forgiven Mario son. Okay, not all of it. The petulance and strops. The misguided belief that you’re too good to put in basic application. That infuriating habit of flinging yourself to the floor at EVERY corner in a futile bid for a pen rather than actually challenging for a header. That costly and unnecessary red in the game we really needed to win. Those pointless back-heels that never ever come off. You’re not forgiven for any of those.”
“But at least now we have a memory to hang our hat on. Something we can think fondly of you for once we’ve finally got rid.”
“I’ve heard we’re going in for that Spanish lad in the next window.”
“Arrivederci Mario lad. Let me help with the packing. Do you have a big box for this trampoline? Thank you for that one moment of magic and that funny thing you said in an interview that time. Were those two high points worth all the drama and one piss-poor performance after another as we came to realise your potential will never be realised? No. Not even remotely. I think that’s called closure.”