So long Balotelli, and thanks for the memories

The Italian giants have chased the player for some time, and have finally got their man after the Premier League outfit became tired with his misbehaviour and attitude. The final straw appears to have been the photographed fight with Roberto Mancini during training earlier this month. That followed a mistimed tackle on team mate Scott Sinclair, and it would seem as though that is what has ended City’s dalliance with the enigmatic striker.

Balotelli, sadly for him, will not leave a legacy in terms of what he did on the pitch. He will be remembered, that is sure. But he will be remembered for the ridiculous, the absurd and the outrageous rather than for his skills.

The image of him lying prone on the ground as team mates walked past him seemingly infuriated at his childish impetuance during the defeat to Arsenal last season is one memory. During that game it seemed as though Balotelli was out to get himself a red card, which he duly did. Why me? Because you make it all about you, Mario.

That of course is the reference to the shirt Balotelli wore and revealed after scoring against Manchester United in that 6-1 win at Old Trafford last year. That will probably be the highlight of his time in England, taking part in that encounter, yet he was hardly pivotal or crucial to the win. The Italian still managed to bring things back to his personal life with the attention seeking t-shirt, referring to that moment of madness when he tried to set off a firework inside his own house.

We will instead remember incidents such as the unsavoury stamp on Scott Parker during last year’s win over Tottenham, rather than anything Balotelli did on the field. Some football writers proclaimed his genius. They were as wide of the mark as Balotelli was with most of his shots. This player is not one who deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as the other maverick forward to have plied his trade in Manchester.

Eric Cantona was a genuine genius on the pitch, a player with sublime skill and touch whose football abilities spoke for themselves. He won games on his own, he was the difference, the man who could pull a rabbit out of a hat. He had his controversial scrapes too, but unlike Balotelli, actually produced something memorable on the field of play.

For Mancini, he persevered with the player but to little avail. Yet you wonder whether the two will be separated for too long. Mancini’s future at Eastlands is in doubt and he could leave at the season’s end. Milan seem certain to fire Massimo Allegri at some point too, and when they go looking for a new coach, Mancini could be the man they turn to. If so, this particular soap opera could run for a little while yet.

So long then Mario. You promised so much yet delivered so little. Hopefully Milan will get the best of you.