Originally Posted by improbus
I still don't agree. Rooney and Zidane were never left off of their squad during the time when their teams were struggling because their coach was afraid of what they would do or because of off the field conflicts. The same goes for Ocho. His antics never compromised his on the field play in the way that Balotellis did. Also, Balotelli picks up a yellow card every game almost exclusively for just being Mario Balotelli, even though he rarely deserves it. That didn't happen to Zidane and hasn't happened to Rooney since his Everton days. Also, Balo isn't really a giant, but for an international striker he is.
Bill Simmons has a term that applies very aptly to Balotelli (and this brings me back to Tyson). He calls it the Tyson Zone. The definition is roughly as follows: "They could be in any headline in the news and it wouldnt surprise you." Any headline. Something silly, something dangerous, something criminal, anything. Tyson is there, Charlie Sheen is there, Rodman is there, and Balo is there. I don't think Ocho applies, (he doesn't seem the criminal or dangerous type). All of the following headlines could apply to Balo.
"Italian football star sleeps in bed every night with two panthers."
"Manchester City Striker sets pub on fire after being disappointed in their selection of red wines."
"Italian superstar actually international spy."
I would read any of those headlines about Mario and not be surprised. I would be surprised to see Ocho in similar headlines, and that's the difference, at less to me.
I disagree with control freaks Mancini and Mourinho that Balotelli is a problem. He is undisciplined and he wears his emotion on his sleeve but I think he is targeted for way too much criticism. It is because he is the best Italian striker in a long time - and Italian soccer is on a 24 hour media cycle as the country's most popular sport.
I'm sorry, but borderline psychos like Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Marcelo (all of these Real Madrid guys committ horrific fouls every year and Mourinho defends them to the letter) are in your " Tyson zone". Those three clearly go through brief periods of blind rage where they are really trying to hurt opponents. Balotelli's bad fouls (I remember him being redcarded vrs. Aresenal a few months back) seem more stupid than vicious.