Opinion: Leave Balotelli alone!

27 January at 09:41

We've never been kind to Mario Balotelli, despite the immense talent that made us instantly fall in love with him. Come to think of it, it's because of his gifts that we've been hard, even extremely hard on him. 

How can someone throw away all that God-given ability? Mario has, through arrogance, pride, and an inability to keep himself under control and grow up. We conned ourselves into believing that it was all due to age: after all, he began life as a pro when he little more than a boy.

We hoped that England would help Balotelli grow up. Instead, he's still immature, and has never become the transcendental player we thought he would become. Wasted talent indeed. 

After that, however, Super Mario became an easy target. Too easy. People give him both barrels even when it really isn't his fault. If he lights a match, they will say he threw a paper bomb. If he's actually hurt, he'll be criticised for not wanting to train.

It is ridiculous that, after a three-month layoff due to a nasty, recurring injury [a sports hernia], people expected him to hit the ground running once he took to the pitch. This can't be allowed to happen. He's a man, not a car. You can't just turn a key and expect him to rev up.

Balotelli played his last game on September 27th, before playing a whole three minutes against Fiorentina and 23 more against Empoli.

Yesterday, against Alessandria, he finally played from the start. It's true, he did little, struggled to move, obviously hampered by his injury. He also converted Milan's penalty with his habitual sang froid... but that's just another day at the office for him. 

Despite scoring the winner, he was targeted: here's the Balotelli of Old, the same of lazy striker, one of the worst on the pitch, a disappointment to all once more. 

This is clearly unfair. Not even Balotelli, who has been such a disappointment after a promising start to his career, deserves this, despite all the despair he's inflicted on fans.

This is prejudice, pure and simple. Sinisa Mihajlovic himself, hardly someone to spare the rod, explained to the media that "Mario isn't in contention for the Derby, because he has yet to get back in shape". 

Know what we should do? Let him play in peace, at least until he's back to his peak. We can be as critical as we like of him then, it's not as if he's not given us plenty of ammunition before.

If Super Mario doesn't, however... we'll know for sure that's grown up. And that's when the fun will truly begin. 

Stefano Agresti (@steagresti), translated by Edo Dalmonte (@edodalmonte)

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