Balotelli Is Not Just Our Future. He’s Our Past.
By Stephen Tudor, Tue 04 October 2011 10:49
City isn’t a team. They’re a bunch of individuals made up of mercenaries.
After hearing this baseless tosh regurgitated ad nauseam by clueless clowns in recent times I finally reached my tolerance threshold this week. Until now I’ve put up with it, smiled to myself and let it dissolve into the air like a fart from an elderly confused relative. The person spouting such nonsense obviously doesn’t watch City beyond the occasional highlights package and if they’re content to have their football opinions formed by flippant, out-of-date media myths then so be it.
Though never true it did at one stage at least have the possibility of becoming so. Now in 2011 it has all the relevance and insightfulness of a Jimmy Cricket gag. Come ‘ere, there’s more….
A fortnight back Evertonians predictably wheeled out the jibe ahead of our grudge encounter and offered up ‘heart’ as the counterbalance. Years back my local under-14s team used to bring on a rather unfortunate kid known to all as ‘Splodge’ if we were winning comfortably with ten minutes left. He had heart too. He couldn’t kick a ball straight but ran himself into the ground and flew recklessly into challenges. Everton proceeded to stick ten Splodges behind the ball at all times in a shameless display of anti-football the likes of which I genuinely thought I’d never see from a club schooled in science. I saw no heart there. Only meek cowardice.
So who are these supposed mercenaries that render us heartless and have Evertonians believing they have some kind of skewed moral superiority over us? Yaya is often the first name mentioned due to his salary and deceptively languid playing style. Then there’s Balotelli of course, in naysayer’s eyes a petulant man-child with a brattish attitude who covets a move to Milan. Lastly there is – or rather was – Tevez.
Blues secretly agreed with the last one. How could we not? He was quite evidently a soldier of fortune who made no bones about it. But while he put on our shirt and put in the graft we dutifully defended him against all charges with the same weary obligation as a mother championing her delinquent offspring.
Until Munich when he crossed a line by refusing to cross the line and we disowned him.
His abhorrent behaviour seemed to confirm to the stupid and blind, who possess the football knowledge of a ten-year old Match reader, that their mercenary theory held water. Unnervingly it was Graeme Souness who immediately called it right. ‘He is one bad apple’. Singular. The words of an irate Scot however didn’t stop the gloaters having a field day.
‘What did you expect when it’s all about greed instead of passion with you lot’ was one stupendously ill-informed comment I heard.
‘Balotelli will be next. Just you watch’ was another, from a rag I shamefully know.
With this, and much more, in mind Ewood Park on Saturday suddenly transcended a mere football match. It was a line drawn in the sand. A nailing of our colours to the mast. A vociferous show of strength in unity to all those – from the scabby-necked enemy within, to the media, to the hordes of idiots who haven’t the first clue about our club and yet still feel justified in casting errant aspersions – who have attempted to mischief-make, undermine and divide and conquer ever since we dared to become wealthy and buy brilliant players.
It was also a public coronation. King Carlos is dead. Long live Super Mario.
This handing of the crown to our temperamental young Italian no doubt tickled our numerous critics who probably viewed it akin to dethroning King Lear (a monarch who lost everything due to the love of his daughters) and anointing George III (who was as mad as a bag of squirrels) and in doing so handing over our devotion, like a baton, from one headstrong ‘mercenary’ who feels no genuine love for our club to another. However, as with most things regarding City of late not only are the critics wide of the mark but they’ve also got it completely arse over tit.
Though Balo prowled with a laid-back menace throughout the Blackburn game and things have generally been going rather well of late we are perfectly aware that a spectacular derailing is never far down the line. Whether it be through petulance, insubordination or his trip-wire temper he will let us down and probably quite badly. But the reason for his ascension as the new terrace figurehead is not because we’re under any delusions that this erratic, complicated soul will lead us to glories with faithful diligence on and off the pitch. If that were so Ewood Park would have shook to songs about Silva or Vinnie – talismans who reliably display commitment to the blue cause - and not about a guy who drives around Moss Side with a wallet full of cash. Nor is it simply due to a fan’s traditional love for a good maverick; an anti-establishment figure who is the antithesis of the watered-down, faux-wholesome, plastic seats and plastic passion of the modern-day game.
No, weirdly – bizarrely in fact – the reason we chose to eulogize Balotelli – a potentially disloyal gun-for-hire who has publicly slated Manchester no less - on a day when we publicly reclaimed our identity and soul following the Tevez fiasco is because we instinctively know that he represents, better than any other player, our past.
Yes he will let us down…just like City have let us down untold times in our lifetime.
He is brilliant one week and awful the next….that pretty much sums up every team, regardless of manager, we endured prior to the takeover.
He is the personification of unpredictable, as were we.
He leaves the field of play due to an allergy to certain grasses….from playing keep-ball when we needed to score to avoid relegation to Dibble looking dumbly at a hand where the ball once lay at Forest its not as if we’re alien to the concept of comedy mishaps.
Balo’s performance at West Brom last season, where he showed glimpses of greatness only to have us ultimately facepalming in dismay was like the past thirty years all rolled into one seventy minute period. It could be argued that his emotional state of mind is eternally blighted with Cityitis.
Lovable, misunderstood, enigmatic, exasperating, exciting, unique and prone to meltdown; the guy with the tyre-track hair has the DNA of this club’s heritage running through his veins.
So when the world looked on last Saturday, hoping to see this supposed collection of individuals lacking in heart fall to pieces after Munich the lads on the terraces knew instinctively who to pledge their allegiance, to proclaim as their symbol for what this club stands for.
Balotelli is not only a totem for our future; he is also an indelible link to our flawed but wonderful past.
There has been a lot of guff written about City in recent times and one of the more persistent myths is that, prior to becoming wealthier than Midas, we used to be a rather lovely, grounded, run-of-the-mill football club. Not true. We always were – and always will be – as mad as a bag of squirrels. But when we play we’re f***ing class.