Mario better off in Milan

Semi Column

When Mario Balotelli came to blows with his manager Roberto Mancini at Manchester City's training ground, the volatile striker's fate was decided. The pictures of the bust-up went viral, and notwithstanding denials from the club, Balotelli had to go.

Mancini had tried everything to manage someone whom Mourinho Balotelli's coach during his time at Inter - had described as "unmanageabl". He was lenient about his erratic form, and supported him through every controversy. But with the bust-up, a line was crossed.

Balotelli is lavishly gifted. He sparkled for Italy at Euro 2012, scoring against Ireland and twice against Germany in their 2-1 semifinal win. City fans will remember him for his 94th minute assist to Sergio Aguero to net the title-clinching goal last season. But such moments were rare, and his off-field indiscretions shone a harsher light on his on-field inconsistency. And the tabloids pounced gleefully whenever he slipped up. Going back home, therefore, might do Balotelli some good. Hopefully, the 22-year-old will realise his potential in the familiar surrounds of the San Siro. AC Milan have faith in him, as shown by the 22 million they shelled out for his transfer.

Among all of Balotelli's bosses, Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has perhaps been the most successful at harnessing his wayward genius. But a national team manager doesn't spend the entire season with his players. Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has a doubly difficult task.

Shamik is a senior staff writer based in Kolkata

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