This question seems to be making the rounds. Apparently Roberto Mancini gave his team a few days off, and as they’re professional footballers and not chartered accountants with a mortgage to pay and kids in need of a babysitter, that means a short jaunt to Italy to walk into a press conference unannounced and without warning (Mancini himself, according to the Daily Mail, was seen in Bosnia).
Since I’m an ocean away and know little to nothing about football culture, I can only ask in all earnestness—is it normal practice in the modern, professional game for teams to take ostentatious European vacations in the middle of an historic title race against a major City rival who are three points ahead of you on the table?
Whilst City fans will loathe the comparison (it is a bit tired), it’s hard to imagine Sir Alex Ferguson giving his charges 48 hours of r ‘n r only for one of them to show up at their former club with cameras flashing and the slack-jawed press looking on. A Balotelli cavorting at his former club like an Old Boy, rudely interrupting press conferences (for the new manager, no less!) doesn’t give the impression of a player with the mental fortitude and club loyalty to battle when his club is losing 1-0 away from home. That may be simplistic, but it’s not implausible.
I suspect that if the season ends with Man City in second place, the Balotelli moment will be held up for years as a model example of the lack of team unity, discipline, focus, etc. Because yesterday’s stunt wasn’t about Balotelli. It’s about an organization that doesn’t seem able to reign in its star players on the eve of the most important two months for City in the last forty-four years.