Though Mario Balotelli has dropped his tribunal appeal of Manchester City’s two weeks-without-pay censure for penchant for collecting red and yellow cards, in the view of The Independent’s James Lawton, the Palermo-born striker, “has come to represent the game at its anarchic worst”.
His surly walks down the tunnel after fresh examples of his failure to understand the rigours of anything resembling professionalism have become a persistent rebuke to the operating standards of one of the world’s richest football clubs. In the end it doesn’t really matter how you categorise his offences. Whether they are the product of wilful arrogance and disrespect for a game which has rewarded him so bountifully, or simply unshakeable evidence of a disordered psyche, the result is the same. It is relentless disruption of the team, paid for at a rate of £170,000 a week.
Whatever the verdict, City are obliged to see the outcome as the end of an experiment in trust and faith. In terms of natural justice, they were entitled to deduct not two but 10 weeks of unearned salary. Certainly they must see Balotelli’s decision to fight their decision as the last chapter of an extremely futile story.