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Bruising Balotelli adds insult to Parker's injury

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Phil McNulty | 19:47 UK time, Sunday, 22 January 2012

At Etihad Stadium

"Why Always Me?" was the question posed on the T-shirt revealed by the human headline generator that is Mario Balotelli after he silenced Old Trafford's Stretford End in October's Manchester derby.

The 21-year-old Italian had scored City's first goal in the 6-1 rout of their neighbours and Premier League champions on their own turf just days after igniting part of his house with an ill-judged attempt to set off fireworks from the bathroom.

Balotelli was demonstrating an endearing ability to laugh at his own misfortune and turbulent personality. Pretty much everyone - United fans apart - laughed with him.

Sadly, for those who embrace the arrival of this wonderfully gifted young maverick to the Premier League there will be days when Balotelli is no laughing matter. And smiles were impossible to find among the Tottenham contingent at The Etihad on Sunday.

Balotelli's clash with Parker went unpunished by referee Howard Webb. Photo: Getty

The pain of losing to Balotelli's penalty deep into stoppage time after clawing back a two-goal deficit was bad enough in isolation. The fact that Spurs felt he should have been sitting in the dressing room as opposed to winning the spot-kick via Ledley King's foul before scoring it only added insult to injury.

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp's eyebrows shot north at an alarming rate when it was suggested that Balotelli's image was mainly that of a "lovable eccentric" - before graphically condemning an offence pretty much everyone who saw it felt warranted a red card.

Balotelli, on as substitute for Edin Dzeko, had already been booked for a foul on Benoit Assou-Ekotto when a routine tussle involving Scott Parker brought an initial accidental collision between his leg and the Spurs midfield man's head.

Only Balotelli will know the full scale of his intent in their second coming together, but it looked an altogether more sinister kick at Parker, leaving his opponent nursing a head wound and Spurs an obvious sense of grievance. He pleaded his innocence, with more generous souls suggesting it was simply an attempt to regain his balance gone badly wrong.

Referee Howard Webb took no action, leaving Balotelli free to win this vital game for Manchester City, who looked like having to settle for an unsatisfactory point after goals from Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott were levelled up by Jermain Defoe's opportunism and a world-class Gareth Bale strike.

All Mario's life was here: The villain and the hero. It is the back story of his career and all evidence suggests this will be the constant narrative that could give T-shirt sellers a roaring trade for the next decade.

Balotelli represents the classic football dichotomy. The T-shirt was more or less a public admission of the chaos that characterises his life and career - and yet amid this chaos there is an ice-cool streak of composure that is completely at odds with this side of his personality.

Go back to the moments before he showed off his T-shirt at Old Trafford. Balotelli had scored the most perfectly executed passed finish beyond David de Gea amid the heat of a Manchester derby. It was not the act of a hothead but of a quick-thinking, calculating football mind.

And for someone whose previous behaviour suggests an inability to cope with pressure points or moments of confrontation, there was remarkable serenity in the defining moments of victory against Spurs.

Mario Balotelli scores his penalty

For all the antics, Balotelli was calmness personified when it came to converting his spot-kick. Photo: Getty

With 20 seconds left, Balotelli was calm itself as he accepted responsibility for City's late penalty, with the Etihad fuelled by a cocktail of anxiety and expectation, before drilling a nerveless spot-kick past Brad Friedel for three points manager Roberto Mancini may treasure at season's end.

These are the moments Mancini accepted as the price on the ticket when he paid Inter Milan £24m to sign the youngster he knew so well in August 2010. He knew Balotelli was the highest of high-maintenance individuals but if high-maintenance also brought that title-winning edge he was willing to shoulder the burden.

Mancini's relationship with Balotelli is almost like father and son. The moments of exasperation are worth it for the joy he occasionally brings him and both have been offered up in equal measure.

The myths and legends have built up around Balotelli almost from the moment he arrived in Manchester. The lines between fact and fantasy have become increasingly blurred, with Mancini recently having to deny - with a smile on his face - claims that his player had been out on the streets of Manchester dressed as Santa Claus dispensing cash to passers-by.

There were even rumours that he had paid for those less fortunate than himself to use a luxury city centre hotel over the festive period. Earlier this month he parked his Bentley outside a Manchester school and popped in to use the toilet.

All good knockabout stuff, but it is on the field that the wisdom of Mancini's decision will be measured. There are no questions about his talent but plenty about the fragility of his temperament.

Balotelli was sent off, harshly in the view of most observers, at Liverpool in November but the red card was the culmination of an 18-minute appearance as substitute during which he appeared an almost unwilling participant in events, such was his obvious lethargy.

He suffered the ultimate humiliation at Anfield last season when he was so poor as a substitute that Mancini substituted him. And yet inside this complex, enigmatic figure lies a rare talent which his manager feels makes him worth all the time and trouble.

Balotelli is loved at the Etihad, a languid attacking contrast to the busy, world-class Sergio Aguero and the giant Dzeko. In among all the talents assembled by Mancini, Balotelli is the most combustible and unpredictable, but also an undoubted match-winner.

He can be a spectacular Premier League presence, the wild card who could help City claim the title for the first time since 1967/68. He is a godsend for those of us who observe in the media, for good and bad.

But there is a line that he can be tempted to cross, either by opponents willing to test his temperament or simply his own, occasionally wayward, approach. This is when the laughter and the indulgence will stop.

Balotelli might win City the title but there's a danger his unpredictability could potentially lose it for them.

Redknapp and Spurs were in no mood to see the funny side among the many sides of Mario Balotelli as they left Manchester feeling robbed of a point they believed they deserved. Why always him?

Comments

Page 1 of 16

  • Comment number 1.

    Balotelli should have seen red, also Lescott should have seen red. However its some measure of Spurs progress that we Tottenham fans are coming away from a match with the league leaders disappointed that we didnt get 3 points.

    I can see why Balotelli didnt get sent off, because at first glance it didnt appear to be a bad challenge. The problem is that its the sort of action that looks worse and worse with every replay. I sense an upcoming ban in his immediate future.

  • Comment number 2.

    Judging purely from the TV pictures it looks pretty clear that Lescott should have been sent off for elbowing Kaboul in the head. Looking also from TV pictures it looks pretty clear that Rooney was elbowed in the head by Song. Neither of these incidents are as serious as the one in which Rooney supposedly deliberately elbowed McArthy evidently - nor as serious as the similar incident involving McArthy in the Wigan v City game either.

    Main thing to take from todays games was the way Richards was exposed defensively as a full-back - far far too easy down his side in the defensive third hence why he isn't automatic 1st pick for England. Also, what the hell was Defoe doing hanging back for that tap-in? City should've lost - and probably deserved to. They certainly did deserve to lose if you bear in mind the Lescott and Balotelli red cards that Webb failed to give for some reason.

    Meanwhile United were so much in control of what they were doing at Arsenal that they actually nearly blew it just as they had from 3-0 up at City the other day. To be fair they are the class of the Premier League and proved it by winning - a fully deserved victory. Obviously to keep it in perspective United's task was always going to be easier than City's today. 16 games still to go, of course. Nearly half a season. City are struggling already, and as a United fan that's less surprising than it apparently is to the rest of the country. Retrospective bans for Lescott and Balotelli will hardly help them, but atm the United don't need that kind of help tbh.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    It would appear that Mancini has a harder job than Ferguson in keeping all his squad pulling in the same direction. So far, so good, but if the wheels start to come off for Mancini, then the debris will be spread far and wide.

  • Comment number 5.

    Balotelli looks straight back at Parker after his pathetic little dive to try and hide his kick, he knew he was going for him. Lescott should've walked as well, could've broken Kaboul's jaw - worse than Kompany's sending off offence from a few weeks ago. FA needs to take action on both of those.

    Spurs just don't seem to have the luck in the big games unfortunately, we'll do well to consolidate third. Hope United win the league now.

  • Comment number 6.

    sorry but that balotelli incident was never a red card it was clearly accidental. cant believe so many people think it was a clear red. people need to see it again because it wasnt a red

  • Comment number 7.

    re. my previous post: the reason Mr Webb didn't punish Balotelli is because Balotelli checked to make sure he wasn't looking before stomping on Parkers head, no fault of the ref. this incident is worse by far than the Eric Cantona 'kung-fu kick' incident because Parker had not even done anything to provoke this action, it was simply a premeditated violent act.

  • Comment number 8.

    That was never a stamp on Balotelli. He never looked back, didn't know where Parker was. He was only trying to regain his balance and immediately apologized. This would never have been considered a stamp if it weren't "always him." Typical media frenzy, need to sell papers I guess. I'm not City fan either.

  • Comment number 9.

    Howard Webb making the easy decision, as usual.

  • Comment number 10.

    @2

    nice to see your myopic view remains in tact.

    the facts are;

    your team won
    you are not streets ahead of Arsenal
    you have the very same problems when faced with injuries
    you won't win the PL
    you may as well refer to yourselves as the new Stoke City with your only tactics?
    HOOFING LONG BALLS !

    on the day the better of two very dire teams won.

    manchester united are nothing to write home about.

    ----------

    as for City vs Spurs ?

    the guy should have seen red, no two ways about it and I'm very concerned about MR Webbs ability to turn a blind eye 1st it was for the red half of manchester, now it seems he's jumped ship ( like Dalgliesh come the end of the season )
    and decided to give his benefit of the doubt decisions in favour of City.

    Spurs were robbed, but i like harrys attitude! and i am very sure they will have more than a say in the Title race, which is more than can be said for us Gunners.

    at least i don't have to listen to Wenger saying its " mathematically still possible "

    so for us goners we just have to concentrate on overhauling the chavs

    liverpool are not a threat to the top four thats for sure !

  • Comment number 11.

    I honestly believe that it wasn't deliberate. Not only is he off balance but both his feet are off the ground so he is trying to get his footing. It's doesn't look pretty in slow motion but there seems to be a growing tendency for the media to be judge and jury in things like that. Just watched Hansen make a fool of himself on MOTD2 talking about this.
    If they ban him, the FA should hang their heads in shame after letting Rooney and Shearer (for those of us who remember when Leicester were in the Premiership) off.

  • Comment number 12.

    2 the sarcasm i typed that first paragraph with doesn't really come across, but suffice it to say media focus on elbows isn't all that without the use of a rooney.

    as an aside, sky sports commentary on both games today was abysmal. the disappointment when valncia put united ahead was palpable, and the utter nonsense that is your average alan parry commentary was in full effect. how the hell they can justify giving him a microphone on pay TV is beyond me. as ever he offered absolutely zero insight into tactics, pattern of play, technical points etc. The bloke should've been put out to grass long ago, never mind promoted as he has been. Then again, when you look at the stuff the producers choose to ignore in their broadcast - like no replay at all of the Spurs penalty appeal between City's goals for example - then you see that the likes of Parry are probably the ideal mouthpiece for them.

  • Comment number 13.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEKSRJybhJ8
    watch it again, see Balotelli clock the ref looking away then stamp backwards, if you can't see it you're in denial!

  • Comment number 14.

    In Italy Balotelli was despised for his arrogance and antics. In this country he's a hero. Says all you need to know about the standards of decency in the UK today.

  • Comment number 15.

    I have little faith in the FA to retrospectively punish Balotelli. The more I see it the incident, the worse it gets. Stamping on an opponents head is one of the most dangerous things you can do on the pitch. Quite frankly, Balotelli deserves more than a three match ban.

  • Comment number 16.

    Trawler:

    You could not make it up.

    CITY beat the 2nd best team in the PL without Toure and Kompany. the game should have been dead and buried. Spurs never had a shot on our goal in the 1st half. This was a game I feared and we won it.

    You still defend Rooney's assault on James Mcarthy yet you openly condem Lescott. Why? Simple, you only see one point of view, a view born out of ignorance.

    UTD need to play Chelsea and Spurs away. Arsenal missed 3 sitters today. I doubt other teams will be less charitable.

    Bring it on. I will be in Manchester in April, hopefully celebrating. Come for a pint???

  • Comment number 17.

    13.At 23:43 22nd Jan 2012, scobiedog-SOSOS wrote:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEKSRJybhJ8
    watch it again, see Balotelli clock the ref looking away then stamp backwards, if you can't see it you're in denial!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    im sorry bt our clearly deluded if you think he clocked the ref .remember that video is in slow mo!!!!!!!!! never a red and im a chelsea fan

  • Comment number 18.

    *but your

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    the fact it's in slow motion makes it all the easier to see, are you blind?

  • Comment number 21.

    'There are no questions about his talent'
    'an undoubted match-winner'
    ***********************
    I'm not sure what he's done at City to justify these kind of comments. Beyond proving himself to be a good finisher he has done little to demonstrate any exciting elements of his game, relying on his 'maverick' image to create an illusion of flair. He's nowhere near Aguero (although I suppose not many are).

  • Comment number 22.

    Lee Dixon on match of the day lost all credibility when he said he was not sure that Ballotelli meant to kick Parker in the head. Is he so biased against Spurs or maybe Man Utd that he can't see the obvious - Ballotelli threw himself to the ground after kicking him presumably to try to take the referee's attention away from what he had done.

    Even Mourinho got rid of Ballotelli; the guy has football talent but he also has a vicious streak.

    Match of the Day need to replace Lee Dixon!

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm surprised that some people are saying it was accidental.

    Anyone who has played football will tell you that it was a deliberate movement. There is no way you'd make that movement unless you were trying to 'do' someone.

    I'm not a Spurs or City fan, and I like watching Balotelli, he's box office... But without question that was a deliberate stamp and I hope he gets a ban.

  • Comment number 24.

    Arrogance and conceit from someone who receives enormous sums for nothing more productive than chasing a ball round a strip of grass and knows the footballing public and authorities will generally turn a blind eye to such behaviour for fear of accusations of prejudice being levelled at them. It's really that simple.

  • Comment number 25.

    the disappointment when valnecia put united ahead was palpable,

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I really doubt Martin Tyler was disappointed, that part of Sky commentary is practically partisan UTD.

  • Comment number 26.

    If it was a red card, Mr Webb probably chose to ignore it. He still annoyed about losing his place to Chris Foy at United.
    And Trawler man, I thought we starting to struggle on Boxing Day when City & Utd were level on 45 points after 18 games, now after 22 games and a bad patch we are 3 points in front!!!!!!!!!
    Really starting to struggle.

  • Comment number 27.

    Scobiedog

    Maybe I'm biased, but all it looks like to me is that he looses his balance and puts his leg back to stop falling over. I can't see any look at the ref. He turns around, but doesn't look for the ref.

    As I say, I'm a City fan, so I may have my blue spectacles on.

  • Comment number 28.

    The rush to judgement here on Balotelli is quite astonishing.

    Firstly, we'll never know whether this was an intentional stamp or not. It looks as if he took the extra effort to force his foot down to the ground but it's debatable whether he was off balance at the time and was just trying to steady himself.

    The fact that he showed compassion afterwards towards the stricken Parker suggests to me that this was an unintentional act.

    Obviously, his record in prior incidents doesn't put him in a favorable light but I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt in this case, but if it comes to light that this was a put up job and he was faking the concern, then they should throw the book at him next time.

  • Comment number 29.

    i'd be most surprised if most of the genuine Citys supporters did not think 2-2 would have been a fair result.

    as much as the whole country is wishing you well for your 1st Title in ages even you must accede your eventual match winner should not have even been on the pitch to either gain the penalty, or score.

    as ever Mr Webb has proved to be a very incompetent official, its about time he retired or was sacked!

  • Comment number 30.

    the fact it's in slow motion makes it all the easier to see, are you blind?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    no im clearly not but the fact that its in slow mo clearly decieves your perception and if you see it normal speed(Like it would of happened in real life) he turned too quickly to clock the ref and anyway it was accidental

  • Comment number 31.

    Never a red card. Balotelli was leaning backwards, and, to stop himself falling, put out a foot. No worse than Petrov's kick on Frimpong yesterday. Actually thought City played well. When Spurs came back into it, largely due to Savic's inability to defend and Bale's individual skill, City could quite easily have collapsed like Newcastle did at Fulham. But they brought the game under control, slowed the tempo, and to me, looked the more likely team to score until Savic's second mistake.

  • Comment number 32.

    pies

  • Comment number 33.

    The incident happened in about two seconds and looks completely accidental in real time. Only in very slow motion can you see the little back-lift of the leg that suggests there was intent. How anyone can actually blame Howard Webb for not issuing a red card there is beyond me. Comment 9 - surely the 'easy decision' for a referee is the one they believe to be correct at the time? It's certainly easier to defend a decision later if you think it's the right one when you make it.
    Webb would have had to be pretty sure it was deliberate, so if he was unsure, it was correct for him not to issue the card.

  • Comment number 34.

    There can be no doubt that the stamp, and it was a stamp, was aimed at Parker. It doesn't matter if he didn't look - all top players have spacial awareness enough to know that he was there.

    His left leg falls to the floor at the speed of gravity, the right leg is much quicker and at an unnatural angle. Dixon is blind if he can't see this.

    Balotelli, for all his headline-worthy antics, has a got a bad streak that no amount of funny stories will dispel. It's down to Mancini, his teammates and the press to tell him that the kind of behaviour he showed today is unacceptable.

    He is a lovable thug, and one part does not cancel out the other.

  • Comment number 35.

    SoccerLimey It looks as if he took the extra effort to force his foot down to the ground but it's debatable whether he was off balance at the time and was just trying to steady himself.
    -----------------------

    i don't know about anyone else but if i'm overbalanced & falling i steady myself with my arms, not by kicking out backwards!

  • Comment number 36.

    re comment 33- SummersIron if you look closely (i posted a link above) yo'll see Balotelli check to make sure Howard Webb isn't looking, it's momentary & passing but very clear! Webb had no chance of seeing it.

  • Comment number 37.

    Why always him?

    You said it yourself, he divides people, and the media love him for it.

    Why always him? See above.

  • Comment number 38.

    I have an unfortunate screen name for this blog, however, people seemingly are suggesting that Spurs were 'robbed'. However, if you have watched the match, Spurs were dominated for the vast majority of it, there were very few chance that they created and City bossed the midfield. The only reason there was any form of fight back was because an inexperienced defender made a mistake. If Savic had not made that mistake City would have waltzed that game 2 possibly 3-0 winners. Kompany cannot come back soon enough as City's defence looks seriously weak without him.

    On the Balotelli incident it looks pretty bad, but only he will ever really know the intent, at no point did he actually look at Parker, but equally as his left leg had just made contact with Parker's face he knew perfectly well where his head was. I am 50/50 on the incident leaning slightly towards the red card.

    At number 2, I don't understand your criticism of Richards, not once was he done for pace and for a significant period in the game Bale was switched to the right wing as he got no joy from Richards. I cannot understand anybody who thinks that Glen Johnson or Kyle Walker are better players. His lack of selection is the biggest joke since Paul Konchesky getting an England cap.

  • Comment number 39.

    Danny 1982-You like watching Balotelli, but you hope he gets a ban?

    That doesn't make sense. If you said you thought he deserved one, then maybe.

  • Comment number 40.

    16 no idea what you'rfe talking about really. lescott elbowed kaboul in the head. it was certainly at least as bad as the rooney incident that has been talked about for months on end against wigan. heard anything about the elbowing incident involving macarthy from the wigan v city game the other day? of course you haven't.

    as for tjhe games today, i clearly said that united's task was always easier than city's. and beating tottenham today is a big plus for the bluenoses even if they didn't really deserve it, based on the TV coverage of the game. i'd still say that overall, knowing the other result before they played, city will be the happier side tonight (due to their lack of experience) but United looked the best side of the 4 teams - certainly the most in control anyhoo. feel free to disagree. looking forward to the FA statement on why they won't ban balotelli and lescott already.

    25 you're clearly a very confused individual. tyler sounded mortified that united had scored. obviously i'm not saying he felt mortified, just that he has been trained by the host broadcaster to describe it like that.

  • Comment number 41.

    36. scobiedog

    A lesson then for the Wolves player who was sent off for a similar (but far more obvious) backwards kick yesterday - make sure the ref isn't watching!
    Agree that Webb had no chance of seeing the incident. Even the Spurs players weren't appealing for a red card and I doubt Parker himself really knew what had happened (kind of hard to when you get kicked in the head).

  • Comment number 42.

    40.
    At 00:08 23rd Jan 2012, TheTrawler wrote

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I disagree.

    Some absolute woeful finishing by Van Perse and Ramsey kept UTD in it. Spurs will have a field day against you with their pace. I don't fear UTD and I believe any team in the PL are capable of going to OT and winning, even Blackburn.

    Your somewhat paranoid??

  • Comment number 43.

    I do not have the will nor the patience to study all of the above posts, but I hope someone has mentioned the push Balotelli received from Modric as he was falling off balance just before his foot stepped back into Parker's head, now I would not presume to know what was in a normal players mind at the time, much less Balotelli's, but it seemed to me far less sinister than people are making out..

    The game was played in a good spirit apart from the usual Van der Vaart antics which have been his trademark ever since he was a junior...

    To try and add some post match spice is just playing into Mr down to the barebones, all refs hate us, we aint got no money, (apart from the billionaire tax exile that owns us), Redknapp's hands.

    Spurs were beaten fair and square, they were gifted a goal to get a sniff, then were fortunate when there 150 million pound player swung his only good leg at the ball and it went in.

    Man City opened the Spurs defense up for their first and Spurs opened themselves up for cities second, the penalty was nailed on, but I would have thought that a more interesting teaser from this blogger would be the question why Ledley King was not shown a yellow or even red card for the foul.

  • Comment number 44.

    38 He was repeatedly exposed, I thought. As far as I'm concerned, top class teams - at international level - would target him. he is generally pretty impressive going forward it has to be said, and his power and athleticism encapsulates City's main advantage over most of their PL opposition. but he is very weak defensively against top class plays imo. On the other hand, his competition for the England RB spot haven't covered themselves with glory this weekend either.

  • Comment number 45.

    Super Mario is an entertainer on the football field. Yes, he has unorthodox ways of expressing himself, but blimey the British media has slanted him a troubled soul since his arrival at City.

    There are cameras and reporters around every corner waiting in hiding for him to piss on the sidewalk or making disparaging comments or blogs on his personal life.

    The lad is 21 years, does anyone recall a certain Mr. Rooney at that age? Does anyone remember the many excuses made for him? However because he played for United, many of his outrageous behaviours were overlooked or excused as being "young".

    I watched the incident and Super Mario was off balance, trying to avoid contact with Parker. However, all we heard from Sky's bias commentators was he deserved a sending off.

    It has disappointed many that Man City have not imploded, the audacity that the club should lead the league. How dare those "noisey neighbours"! The detractors have attempted at every opportunity to disparage the Club, Mancini and Super Mario.

    Blimey, how dear Man City stay on top above the media's beloved club in 2nd place.

  • Comment number 46.

    "18. At 23:47 22nd Jan 2012, bestchelseasteven wrote:
    *but your"

    Try "you're". 3 attempts and you'll get there eventually.

  • Comment number 47.

    One or two things happening from the noisy neighbours that is quite odious. Kompany rightly sent off for a possible leg breaker,and now the Idiot and Lescott both escape a deserved red against Spurs. No doubt there will be a few who will defend both players,indeed city fan Lee Dixon has started already.
    Balottery stamped on Parker,end of story.It was deliberate. It was inexcusable.
    Now it's down to the FA(and Bernstein) to retrospect it and give the bloke the ban he deserves.
    And Lescott. A deliberate elbow. A retro ban.
    All this comes after Mancini spends a couple of games waving imaginary cards in the hope of getting players booked/sent off.
    It seems that the pressure is getting to the lads from the council squat. Indeed they seem hell bent on becoming the new Leeds,a team not well liked.

  • Comment number 48.

    Spurs fans ?

    look on the bright side

    You at last have a Blog the only problem its not exactly a positive one you lost the match, but at least people are writing about you thats an improvement and should give you the confidence to try and secure that third spot.

  • Comment number 49.

    @ 8 Dalglish-Dalglish-Dalglish

    Tell me you're not serious! Balotelli didn't look back. He didn't know where Parker was. He was trying to regain his balance and immediately apologised.

    Of course he didn't look back. That's the whole point! Of course he showed concern! He would, wouldn't he?!

    @ 3 scobiedog-SOSOS

    Very well spotted. I must confess I'm disappointed with Lee Dixon's analysis. He's clearly in a very small minority. A minority that is very, very naive.

    Parker's injuries could have been very serious. That's why Kompany was sent off. That's why Glen Johnson should have walked. The potential for very serious injury is the key here. Johnson and Kompany were reckless.

    As for Balotelli. It's a shame suspensions aren't awarded for cowardice.

  • Comment number 50.

    @42


    could not agree more.

  • Comment number 51.

    On a side note I would say CITY played well today.

    Barry had a great game, Nasri looks like he is improving, Silva is sublime (shoe in for PL player of the year.

    Richards is the best Right Back in the country, looks a threat everytime he goes forward.

    Aguero looks sharp.

    Savic made a mistake but I thought he had a decent game.

    Spurs are decent but I thought our midfield was far better than Modric, Parker, Lennon and Bale.

    Great 2nd half.

  • Comment number 52.

    42 superb performance from Manchester's own Danny Welbeck again today.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    52.
    At 00:25 23rd Jan 2012, TheTrawler wrote:


    42 superb performance from Manchester's own Danny Welbeck again today.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dont rate him, just an opinion.

  • Comment number 55.

    @ 40

    " no idea what you'rfe talking about really "

    oddly enough I've often thought the same about you just what is " you'rfe "

    enlighten us all please.

  • Comment number 56.

    ander12
    @11
    I honestly believe that it wasn't deliberate. Not only is he off balance but both his feet are off the ground so he is trying to get his footing.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In real time it looked bad, in slow motion it looks horrendous and it looked deliberate no matter how it was viewed.

    If the FA take a look at this and decide it was deliberate, then I hope that they ban him for as long as possible. The guy has a short fuse and in a limited career, he already has a history for losing it, he's just a thug and no matter how good he is, the game does not need thugs like him.

    The thuggery by Lescott was no lesser an offence, both actions involved an opponents head, where injuries can carry a far more serious effect than anywhere else on the body.

  • Comment number 57.

    i think the swinging of the leg into Parkers head was in itself a viscous act. Granted it was more than likely unintentional. But given his track record I refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt. After making contact with his head the first time, notice he stood on his hand, therefore he knew exactly what he was doing....he only showed compassion because he realised he had stamped on his head. That all being said i wouldn't blame the ref, this all happened over two seconds.
    FA need to act on this, bearing in mind that Suarez got a 8 match ban for verbal abuse, they should consider what would be the consequences for a commoner who stamped on some ones head outside a pub!!!

  • Comment number 58.

    " where injuries can carry a far more serious effect than anywhere else on the body."

    the trawlers backside has no complaints thus far.

  • Comment number 59.

    54 why on earth would that be relevant?

    55 trying to enlighten you would clearly be the ultimate exercise in futility

  • Comment number 60.

    59.
    At 00:37 23rd Jan 2012, TheTrawler wrote

    It's a response to your opinion about Wellbeck.

    Thus its my OPINION of the named player

  • Comment number 61.

    @59

    an admission of incapability and utter incompetence

    very surprising.

  • Comment number 62.

    Joe
    @31
    Never a red card. Balotelli was leaning backwards, and, to stop himself falling, put out a foot
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Balotelli did not put his foot out to gain balance, his right leg goes behind his left and he is seen stamping down with force.

  • Comment number 63.

    loving the way the booing the arsenal support (sic) of Nani for having to limp off injured is still being presented as derision of wenger's substitution of oxlade btw. don't get me wrong, i'm not saying the entire ground is full of clueless jcl sky numpties these days. but just like at the CoMS their 30,000 support has swelled of late hasn't it.

  • Comment number 64.

    Whats happened to the predicted City crisis?

    3 wins out of 3 in PL including Liverpool & Spurs........ top of the league for the umpteenth week.............cracking up?......I think not.

    United? they are hanging for now to a 3 point deficit and an inferior goal difference, but not for much longer with that mediocre squad.

  • Comment number 65.

    Welbeck is the best young English striker to emerge on the scene for a long long time. the boy is absolute class. delighted for him to slot the winner today on the big stage. fully deserved his celebration in front of us ;-}

  • Comment number 66.

    Bertie Button@53.
    You obviously meant to say "You're a funny man"...at least if you try to belittle someone,,try to get the wording correct.
    I notice you could'nt defend your beloved players in your short post. Even you can't defend the indefensible. I stand by my belief of the odious stench coming from the squat,it seems that the money is having a bad influence on the comedy club. Remember the days pre lottery win when citeh fans basked in the supposed glory of being a lot of fans favourite 2nd team(ie..losers). Oh for those days eh?
    I said before Christmas that the wheels will come off the citeh revival. You've lost a few games,scraped a couple of wins,and seen the pressure build on Mancini since.
    Out of the FA Cup,the CL and most prob the LC in midweek.
    And it's not even sqeeky bum time yet!

  • Comment number 67.

    65.
    At 00:53 23rd Jan 2012, TheTrawler wrote:


    Welbeck is the best young English striker to emerge on the scene for a long long time. the boy is absolute class. delighted for him to slot the winner today on the big stage. fully deserved his celebration in front of us ;-}
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Wellbeck, no pace, bad 1st touch.

    Reminds me of that character in Shrek, "Donkey"

  • Comment number 68.

    64 city have been scrambling around for at least a fortnight and have lost half a dozen games over the past couple of months or something. it's a far cry from everyone shouting about how they were romping to the title that's for sure. the top sides don't start playing run-in football until, well, until the run-in. the run-in starts second weekend of march this season.

  • Comment number 69.

    The Trawler - Please don't start this United vs the world rhetoric again, it doesn't need to litter every blog. I'd have thought you'd be able to enjoy a good win without the bitterness.

    I thought Welbeck did some things well today but was a bit wasteful as well at times. In truth if United had been clinical they would have been 3 up at half-time, the final ball was lacking. Ferguson broadly got his tactics right in trying to kill the game when Arsenal were in possession and working the ball out wide, particularly down their left flank, but at the end of the day could have ended up throwing points away second half. The decision to take the Ox off doesn't really need discussing, it was never the right call and aside from Arshavin's lazy attempts to track for the second goal, it allowed United to move Valencia to right-back. Why it took Arsenal 45 minutes to decide to play against United was unfathomable, they were more than capable of getting something from the game had they approached it right.

    I thought City played well in patches today, they had a good 10-15 minutes before half-time and until Spurs scored were rampant in the second half. However, I couldn't help but to find myself questioning their approach at 2-0, they were so prone to the sucker punch. Granted, it was a shocking mistake from Savic and Hart made it far too easy, but surely they have to learn that it doesn't benefit them for the game to be played at breakneck tempo when they're winning at home. A more experienced side would have taken the sting out of it and picked Tottenham off on the counter.

    It speaks volumes of Spurs' improvement that there is so much disappointment about today, but I think they could have done better to be honest. I thought Barry was anonymous today, and given their starting line-up it wasn't a surprise to see Spurs' midfield with so much time on the ball, I thought they should have done more with it. For me Souness made an excellent point today that what Modric does in the middle of the pitch, Silva does in the final third. Modric is clearly a very good player but in my book doesn't even nearlymerit a comparison with the likes of Silva, Fabregas, etc, who would really punish opposition given the same space, in big games too. Also, to me Adebayor was a big miss because although Defoe grabbed a goal he's not the presence and nuisance Adebayor is, and doesn't have the same quality. It's a real tough one for Spurs because it would have been a huge boost to get something, as it is they're in a really tough period with question marks lingering over their form in tough games (not been convincing other than Liverpool at home this year). Although I'm sure if you offered being a shoe-in for top 4 at the start of the season they'd have taken it.

  • Comment number 70.

    He's most likely aimed his foot at Parker, but I doubt he would have been aiming for the head, hence the concern afterwards.

  • Comment number 71.

    Why no word on Lescott's forearm smash? Should have been a penalty and card rouge.

    Don't cop out on this McNulty; if the press won't hold the FA and idiot managers such as Mancini to account, who will?

  • Comment number 72.

    65. At 00:53 23rd Jan 2012, TheTrawler wrote:
    Welbeck is the best young English striker to emerge on the scene for a long long time. the boy is absolute class.

    ==================================================

    Tbh I think Sturridge is far more gifted and Welbeck is merely the beneficiary of playing in an excellent UTD team he should have scored 4 today at least.

    Also, with regards to your earlier comment on Micah Richards, did you actually watch the game? Richards kept Bale quiet all afternoon, hence his goal coming from a central position and his ball for defoe coming from a counter during which Richards had been up for a corner.

  • Comment number 73.

    66.
    At 00:57 23rd Jan 2012, 1878onwards wrote:


    Bertie Button@53.
    You obviously meant to say "You're a funny man"...at least if you try to belittle someone,,try to get the wording correct.
    I notice you could'nt defend your beloved players in your short post. Even you can't defend the indefensible. I stand by my belief of the odious stench coming from the squat,it seems that the money is having a bad influence on the comedy club. Remember the days pre lottery win when citeh fans basked in the supposed glory of being a lot of fans favourite 2nd team(ie..losers). Oh for those days eh?
    I said before Christmas that the wheels will come off the citeh revival. You've lost a few games,scraped a couple of wins,and seen the pressure build on Mancini since.
    Out of the FA Cup,the CL and most prob the LC in midweek.
    And it's not even sqeeky bum time yet
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    No pressure.

    We are simply the best team in the PL, its simples.

    Squeaky Bum, not sure of the meaning, we have "World Cup" winners in our squad.

    Balotelli??? I will use Red Noses analysis??? "It was a coming together"

    "To me, to you, To me, to you"

  • Comment number 74.

    2 reasons why it was likely a deliberate strike to Parkers head.

    a) The right leg that strikes his head, apparently for balance, would have been more natural to go forward, not backward, to cushion his landing.

    b) Since his left leg struck Parkers head, he would have been aware where Parkers Head/body was and would have tried to avoid said area, not stamp down on it.

    4 game ban

  • Comment number 75.

    64 are you james milner by any chance? zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Comment number 76.

    Look, anyone with an ounce of intelligence will come to the inevitable conclusion that it was a malicious, purposeful stomp, intended to injure.

    Unfortunately Mancini and the rest of the City management will turn a blind eye and claim they didn't see it, that it was accidental, that he was trying to keep his balance etc. etc.

    Absolute rubbish and unfortunately the type of attitude prevailing in football, particularly in the Prem, where none of the manager's have the balls to call it as it is.

    Seriously, someone is going to get badly injured and you can bank on a young player's promising career coming to a premature end because of this weak, self serving attitude.

    Unfortunately this, along with the fact that money buys success, is surely going to be the ruin of football as a spectacle. Never mind which team you support the writing is on the wall unless the so called custodians and managers in the game don't grow a pair and call out these nasty, malicious players.

  • Comment number 77.

    sorry, freudian slip, I meant 67

  • Comment number 78.

    Welbeck looks very good at times and at others almost like an Heskey type donkey, the jury is still out.

    United fans were telling us how Jones was the best thing since slice bread, but now even Fergie won't let him go anywhere near centre back position after his meltdown at Newcastle.

  • Comment number 79.

    It is all too easy to overcome the obvious problem that exists in these circumstances and the answer is the use of the video playback facility by the fourth official who then uses the sound feed to the Referee.
    Since fouls of the nature of those committed by both Lescott and Balotelli inevitably end up with trainers on the field of play no time would be lost and the 'natural speed' of the game would not be affected.
    If this system is still too complex then everyone in the game should be made aware that after-match checking would give players who breach the rules of the game in such horrendous ways the same punishment as if the referee had seen it at the time.
    Sadly City will retain their ill-gotten gains and Spurs (not my team) will have to fight all the harder to overcome this unfair setback.

  • Comment number 80.

    69 strange post. no idea what you're talking about tbh. tyler clearly described the united positives in a far more low key manner than United's as usual. in fact the entire commentary was from arsenal's point of view. it's got nothing to do with united against the world or whatever it was you said, since tyler is irrelevant.

    as for the match, united were the better team and in control of what they were doing for the most part. however, when they are sloppy in their passing then they risk being caught by change of tempo, as happened when they were battering city the other week. arsenal were let off the hook today, but the equaliser just woke united back up. the winner was probably the best piece of football in the game and a fitting statement of welbeck's progress this season - this lad has a big future in front of him, and the fact he's currently first choice for the league champions tells you that.

  • Comment number 81.

    80 far more low key manner than arsenal's

  • Comment number 82.

    this lad has a big future in front of him, and the fact he's currently first choice for the league champions tells you that.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    He is only 1st choice because the rest of the cast are garbage. that does not make him a good player. Like 78 stated, he is a cross between Heskey and perhaps Kenwayne Jones. Given Wellbeck or Aguero??? I know who I would pick.

    Looking forward to the FA cup next Saturday.

  • Comment number 83.

    79 tbf if defoe had kept up with play he would've had a tap-in. why he held is run like that is anybody's guess. if that had been say Denis Irwin to Roy Keane then City's 2-0 lead would've deservedly been obliterated.

  • Comment number 84.

    82 City got knocked out. Hope this helps.

  • Comment number 85.

    83.
    At 01:27 23rd Jan 2012, TheTrawler wrote:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trawler?????

    Have you ever played the game at a decent level????????

    Your observations are fanciful.

    Just another observation.

  • Comment number 86.

    84.
    At 01:28 23rd Jan 2012, TheTrawler wrote:

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes, but I believe we will be back in the Charity Sheild.

    Tell me??

    How will it teaste if CITY take away your title.

    No longer the king, no longer the king in your own city.

    Will you be suicidal????? I think yes, this is your life????

  • Comment number 87.

    United fans still finding it tough to be second best, you would have thought they would be getting used to it by now,

    The pressure and crisis angle for City not quite working for them is it.

    There is an 'Anyone But City theme' developing, but the way Silva and other City players performed today........no probs bring it on.

  • Comment number 88.

    #80 I'm talking about the fact that you seem incapable of commenting on a subject without pointing out how in some way it displays the media's harsh treatment of United, and casting your rod out to get a few bites to justify getting into a lengthy diatribe on how the media and SkySports and every fan in the country are biased against United. It gets really boring, give it a rest.

    United were in control for the first 45 and should have been a few goals to the good, I thought they were really wasteful in front of goal. The flanks were always where they were going to do the damage, Djourou was given such a tough time by Nani he took the soft option and didn't even bother closing Giggs down for the first to avoid getting skinned again. I think United would probably have gone on and won the game even without the bizarre substitution and it was no more than they deserved, but after equalising I thought Arsenal were actually looking fairly useful going forward and could definitely have got something from the game, which would have been ridiculous considering their insipid first half performance.

    For Arsenal it wasn't a surprise to lose, although the first-half performance exceeded even the most pessimistic of expectations. Ramsey has been really poor in midfield the last few games but in reality he's only 21 and it's a ridiculous amount that's being asked of him. Djourou was woeful, as is standard, Arshavin somehow managed to take another step in the wrong direction and the approach was altogether far too negative. The positives were clearly Oxlade-Chamberlain (who has shown he can carry promising displays into big games) and Koscielny (who has actually had a very good season notwithstanding Arsenal's general defensive shambles), but at the moment it's difficult to see Chelsea not completing the top 4 by default of being the best of the worst contenders.

    I completely disagree with your criticism of Richards, I thought he kept Bale pretty quiet for the vast majority of the game and went forward with power and purpose.

  • Comment number 89.

  • Comment number 90.

    Hi Phil - congratulations on a great blog. The absence of negative comment from the posters shows you got this just right.

    In terms of the incident, the important point for me is what happens with his left leg beforehand. The back of his knee makes (accidental) contact with Parker's head, and he adjusts his foot to avoid Parker's hand. The point of this is that he knows exactly where Parker's head is.

    I personally think it is impulsive and deliberate. It reminds of me of Rooney a few years ago (and even on occasion still - though thankfully much less frequent). I don't think Balotelli was trying to seriously injure Parker - but it was definitely at least a second yellow. Level headed players who are already on a yellow don't do things like that.

    But, as other posters have said, if this wasn't Balotelli (or Barton / Rooney et al) it would be a non-story. It was missed. No big deal. Move on.

  • Comment number 91.

    88 I didn't say it was "harsh" did I? I was very matter-of-fact about it in fact, deliberately so. Just as Tyler has been for a good number of years now. You seem to want to extrapolate something from this observation to fit in with your rolling theme in response to my posts for some reason. admittedly that's not as tedious as the other two clowns currently on here, of course, but even so... stick to just presenting your own opinions, you write well even if it's not particularly accurate necessarily from my own point of view.

  • Comment number 92.

    88.
    At 01:43 23rd Jan 2012, northbank123 wrote:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I agree with your comments. I could not believe Wenger took off Oxlade-Chamberlain , he was causing Utd problems.

    Arsenal were pretty wasteful in front of goal and they looked scared in the 1st half.

    Some teams fear Utd, and in reality there is nowt to fear, take my word.

  • Comment number 93.

    Balotelli is cool, no doubt a great addition to the prem, but I kinda wish Aguero took the penalty instead (and then see it saved, lol). The Italian is such a media magnet that he stole the thunder of a brilliant game in which he didn't really do much.

    (And yes, Balotelli didn't really do much. He would tell you himself that scoring from the spot is as easy as..*insert Italian stereotype here*

  • Comment number 94.

    All these comments show how difficult it is to be a referee. So if you no one can agree with a gazillion looks at the incident, how do you expect him to make the 'right' decision in seconds?

    As for Balotelli - he is God. Football would be boring without players like him.

    And Bale, you say he was quiet but isn't it the sign of a quality player when he appears from nowhere to score a goal like he did today?

  • Comment number 95.

    88 incidentally, on Richards I think Bale was fairly quiet for much of the game but it was nothing much at all to do with Richards. Spurs kept it low key and seemed set to try and hit City with a few carefully selected thrusts. City certainly didn't deserve to be 2 up at any point during that match, and at that point the Spurs gameplan was out of the window. Whenever they got down the left they seemed to have little problem basically doing what they liked, often having a man over over there, predictably creating the equaliser down that [weak] side, and sending a few crosses over from there too. At the highest level Richards would be targeted as a weak link defensively imo. He has power and athleticism as his main strengths but these have constantly proven to be most effectively in the opposition 3rd rather than his own. As I said before, his natural competition for the England full-back spot (Walker and Johnsen) haven't exactly covered themselves in glory this weekend either, and so I dare say there's still every chance that more versatile players who can play there are still well in contention for the England Euros squad.

  • Comment number 96.

    Clowns to the left of me, jockers to the right "here I'm stuck in the middle with you"

    Come for a pint Trawler, I'm buying, enlighten me with your wit and interlect.

  • Comment number 97.

    United very lucky that Van Persie missed a sitter (after Smalling fell over a blade of grass).............and very fortunate that Arshavin defended like a Bolshoi Ballet Dancer for the 2nd goal.

    If any team look like Champions it is City, United look like the team that failed to get out of an easy Champions League group and then lost to the bottom of the table at home! ........City have won 11 out of 11 at home.....not bad for a crisis.

    United are a team of mainly crocks, kids and has beens, only Rooney would be good enough for the City starting 11, and even he, given his recent form would be probably on the bench by now.

  • Comment number 98.

    The kick at Parker's head by Balotelli was such a blatant foul, I do't understand why Howard Webb did not see the offense.
    Since Balotelli has committed this kind of foul more than once the penalty should be at least 6 games.

  • Comment number 99.

    1990 league champions away, clayheads at home, Chelsea away, 1990 league champions at home, Amsterdam away - and then who knows from there!...


    the season that just keeps on giving.

  • Comment number 100.

    @ 76 janetbarr

    Agreed. If it wasn't for the money being offered by Manchester City's owners, Mancini certainly wouldn't be here, and more to the point, neither would Balotelli!

    You raise a worrying wider point. The competition is being distorted. Blackburn bought the title, and were then followed by Chelsea. Manchester City could soon follow. Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham play to a budget. Yes, Manchester United are loaded with debt, but they operate within financial parameters.

    This is the real tragedy of the modern game. The essence of competition is being destroyed. My real concerns are for clubs like Everton and Aston Villa, both with very rich histories. When clubs of that stature are finding it difficult to compete financially there is a real problem. If it wasn't for their obvious wealth Manchester City would have been in that category.

    Balotelli and Tevez symbolise the unacceptable face of this era, perhaps for different reasons. Samir Nasri isn't far behind. The greed and arrogance are breathtaking. Perhaps we're now seeing a new category of behaviour.

    Just to balance things I don't buy Redknapp's spin on Modric. Will Modric be at Tottenham next season? I hope he is, and despite my allegiance I sincerely hope Van Persie stays at Arsenal. It would send a good message, similar to that recently sent by Gerrard to Liverpool supporters. I do fear that players like Gerrard, Carragher and Scholes are representative of a bygone era.

    Two footed tackles, players refusing to play, stampings, managers in a perpetual state of blame and denial, and staggering ticket prices. Yet still we turn up.

    Why always us?!

 

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