Andy Gray column: Man City never saw the best of Milan’s Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli will always have a special place in Man City hearts, but the Premier League never saw the best of him, says Andy Gray

mario balotelli
Mario Balotelli scored one Premier League goal this season Photo: Kelvin Gillmor

mario balotelli

Mario Balotelli will always hold a special place in the hearts of Manchester City supporters, but we didn’t see the best of him in the Premier League.

He showed flashes of his brilliance but nowhere near often enough for him to be considered a successful purchase.

We saw his best performance last summer at the European championship with Italy, when he scored two goals in the semi-final win against Germany.

But Roberto Mancini will be a little disappointed that having taken a chance on Balotelli, he wasn’t able to conjure consistent performances out of him.

All in all, it was well worth having a go. He will always be remembered for creating Sergio Aguero’s last-minute winning goal against Queens Park Rangers which secured City the title last season.

But it was almost inevitable when they had that public spat at the training ground that he would end up going. There was no way he could stay.

It’s best for everyone that he’s moved on. Balotelli’s moved back home and he always looked a little bit of a lost soul in England.

They haven’t lost too much money on him and have removed a huge earner from the wage bill – even if you’re a very rich club that still matters.

Balotelli has gone back where he’s always wanted to play, and that’s at Milan. He now has his wish.

He should be happier now he’s returned to Italy, and if you’re happier you should play better. He’ll do better there than at City.

I always miss good players and personalities when they leave England – and the Premier League does too. We’ve lost far too many over the last four or five years without really replacing them.

We’ll miss Balotelli and his antics, even on the pitch as well as off it, but someone else will come along and fill the bill.

Balotelli’s departure only weakens City slightly, I don’t think it’s that bad a loss. They’ve got enough up front in Edin Dzeko, Aguero and Carlos Tévez.

It won’t affect their title chances. Balotelli only scored one league goal in 14 games this season. That doesn’t suggest he was making a huge contribution.

It’s not like losing Aguero or Tévez, it’s not even like losing Dzeko, who has contributed many goals this year. They should be able to absorb it quite easily.

However, City will need to start finding the back of the net again soon after firing a blank in their draw against QPR.

To be fair, it wasn’t too surprising to see City drop points. QPR beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and drew with Spurs at Loftus Road.

QPR have shown they’re made of sterner stuff recently but City did enough to win the game, they’ll know that. They hit the frame of the goal and Júlio César made two or three very good saves.

Until we get to the last half a dozen games, I think Manchester United’s lead will fluctuate between four and nine points, depending on who the two teams play each weekend.

Then when we get to the last few games, that’s when the pressure will tell.

But City can’t afford to drop many more points, to be honest. They’ve got 14 games left and that sounds a lot but it really isn’t.

When you’re seven points behind you can only probably afford to drop another two or three to have any hope of winning the title.

That shows you what City need to do – they need to go on an unbelievable run. In saying that, we have to assume United are not going to drop many.

Andy Gray is an official ambassador for – Football’s Social Network. Available now for FREE online or at the App Store.

MORE: Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and Liverpool stars among players out of contract in 2018

MORE: Seven reasons why Chelsea must keep Cesc Fabregas

MORE: Do you know the top Muslim footballers in the Premier League?

MORE: Back to The Sport Review homepage

MORE: Man United latest news

MORE: Arsenal latest news

MORE: Chelsea latest news

MORE: Liverpool latest news

The Sport Review
Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and Liverpool stars among 16 players out of contract in 2018
The Sport Review
Top 50 most stylish footballers in the world in 2017: Chelsea, Arsenal stars feature – Slideshow
The Sport Review
20 Chelsea transfer targets Antonio Conte could sign in the summer
The Sport Review
Top 25 Muslim football players in Premier League: Arsenal, Liverpool, Man United and Chelsea stars feature
The Sport Review
Arsenal WAGs 2017: Meet Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s wives and girlfriends
The Sport Review
Roberto Firmino: 25 photos of the Liverpool forward’s stunning wife
The Sport Review
Top 40 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United stars feature
The Sport Review
Chelsea fans will be thrilled by Pat Nevin’s claim about Eden Hazard
The Sport Review
Miami Open 2017: After years apart, Roger Federer takes down old adversary Juan Martin del Potro
The Sport Review
Insider reveals how much reported Man United target will cost