Christopher Chang: Fine line between Balotelli's genius and madness


The news of Gary Speed's passing was fresh in the minds of Premier League footballers on the weekend. Sadly, Mario Balotelli could not adopt a professional approach that would have been befitting of the Welsh legend.

Speed was the first player to play 500 games in the Premier League and, as a model professional, captained every club he played at. Balotelli is still growing up in new surroundings, but his two yellow cards against Liverpool at Anfield smacked of insolence and immaturity.

This was his third red card for City in the space of 15 months. The bewildering and brilliant Balotelli is making a habit of touchline scuffles with Mancini - an entertaining spectacle for neutral spectators, but an embarrassing aside for City fans.

Balotelli's "Why always me?" celebratory t-shirt worn against Manchester United seems to ring true each week. It's an approach the player takes to most incidents, as he protests a child-like innocence after playground discretions.

Mancini defended Balotelli's second yellow card, accusing Liverpool players of "provoking" a red card from the striker, who had only been on the pitch for 18 minutes as a substitute.

"We don't have a problem with Mario. He's young. We can't change Mario in one month, two months, three months. If he can [change], he can do everything. In the last three months he has been playing very well. He's scored a lot of goals and been an important player for us," the Manchester City boss said after the 1-1 draw.

Mancini's opposite number Kenny Dalglish offered his own thoughts on the striker: "Sometimes he doesn't help himself. Maybe he gets punished for things other people wouldn't get punished for. But if you help yourself, you don't get into those situations."

Balotelli seems to revel in the bad-boy image he has created. There is a fine line between his and genius and madness. He has described himself as second only to Lionel Messi - but he needs to produce more of the former for people to take that claim seriously.

On the subject of fine lines, it looks like goal-line technology could finally become reality. Reports suggest it could be in place in the Premier League for the start of next season.

The latest system, Goalminder, is the latest technology to be tested. Why it has taken this long for FIFA and the FA to seriously consider implementing the system is a mystery - Hawk-Eye, used so successfully in tennis, has been running for years now. Goalminder, which uses cameras around the inside of the goal frame, can apparently notify the referee within seconds when a goal has, or hasn't crossed the line. Pity it's a bit late for Frank Lampard.

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