FanDuel - WFBC

July 25, 2011

Man City Pulls Striker When Backheel Backfires: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini pulled striker Mario Balotelli from a preseason friendly against the L.A. Galaxy Sunday for trying a showboating backheel shot that missed feebly and sparked accusations of "disrespect" from the ESPN announcing crew. Writers for the Guardian and Telegraph were more appreciative. Asks Rory Smith, "If a player can be hauled off by his own manager for a bit of trickery -- and, because this cannot be stressed enough, a bit of trickery in an entirely meaningless game -- what's next? A booking for a back heel? A straight red for a nutmeg?"

posted by yerfatma to soccer at 11:08 AM - 16 comments

I thought he had stabbed someone with the way ESPN reacted to it.

posted by bperk at 10:34 AM on July 25

The world needs to understand that showboating is only allowed in American basketball.

posted by graymatters at 12:16 PM on July 25

I was watching the game and at first I thought they called offisides and thats why he tried that shot. If he thought he was offsides and the play was stopped its more understandable.

I think if it was another player it wouldnt have been such a huge story but with all the issues around Balotelli it was magnified.

posted by WolfpackMD at 12:33 PM on July 25

A friendly is a glorified practice. Balotelli looks foolish because the kick failed, and that's punishment enough. He should not have been pulled over it.

posted by rcade at 12:39 PM on July 25

I have two different takes on this.

First, had he scored, everyone would have been shouting about what a tremendous and creative goal it was. Unfortunately, you can't succeed without trying first, and he missed.

Second, I would have pulled him also, mainly because it appears (I know nothing about soccer or the team's dynamics here -- just going by what I saw) his teammates were pretty appalled by the shot. If the coach thinks Balotelli's awanker and so does the team, I don't think you have any choice but to pull him.

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:46 PM on July 25

An entirely meaningless game? What's that supposed to mean?

That was a ridiculous shot. Honestly, that was so ugly it borders on the offensive. I mean, if you don't pull this guy, what's next? He tries it again? Your goalie puts on high heels and starts dancing in front of the goal? Sit at the end of the fucking bench, think about what a bad shot that was for the rest of the game, and don't ever do it again.

posted by phaedon at 01:04 PM on July 25

I attended the game yesterday, but I have not watched ESPN's take on it. From my vantage point, 40 rows up, midway between the halfline and the goal he was in front of, it was showboating of the highest order. The Man City fan I was next to was appalled and very appreciative when Balotelli was pulled. The crowd went apeshit because he disrespected the other team. Making it or not wasn't an issue. It wasn't even a particularly enthralling move - it was more on the lines of a taunt, and I'm glad Mancini had the wherewithal to sit Mario's ass down (and yell at him as he came off the field).

posted by sbacharach at 01:36 PM on July 25

In a competitive match, there is no way Mancini would have wasted a sub at 30 minutes for this, and in a competitive match, Balotelli would have just scored. So it is sound and fury with no real purpose.

Having said that: Mario, Mario, Mario. That was one of the worst backheels I've ever seen. Seriously. I think a lot of the outrage is from the unspoken notion that showboating awfully is worse than not showboating at all. He should have gotten pulled and made to stand on the sideline practicing tricks until he got it right, while de Jong tackled him in the chest for each poor execution. That would have been entertaining.

posted by Errant at 02:37 PM on July 25

ESPN's self-righteous outrage over this was comical.

posted by feloniousmonk at 03:06 PM on July 25

I think if that particular move was renamed the "shitheel" in Balotelli's honour, everyone could walk away a winner.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:28 PM on July 25

if that particular move was renamed the "shitheel" in Balotelli's honour, everyone could walk away a winner.

Any and all questions pertaining to the author's cleverness are hereby retracted.

posted by tahoemoj at 05:13 PM on July 25

I think the ESPN commentariat took it as disrespectful to the Galaxy, and you can understand their sensitivity to any hint that the non-MLS sides, in pre-season mode, regard the MLS on a par with the poor Asian teams that were standard pre-season fare in years gone by. Mancini was obviously sensitive to that, as well, and I think he made the right move, because it showed that Balotelli's attitude wasn't fit for that particular match.

Yes, it's a friendly; yes, the ridiculous 'World Football Challenge' moniker is clearly overcompensating; but the nice little earner that comes from playing to full houses in the US will go away very quickly if you give the crowds the sense that you don't respect them or the teams they support. As their club sits on the cusp of global marketability, Citeh's management is conscious that they want to make friends and not enemies.

The ESPN response was definitely exaggerated, but the Graun and Telegraph writers are trolling for hits, while acting oblivious of the optics on the other side of the pond.

his teammates were pretty appalled by the shot.

His teammates understood what the game was about. Unwritten rules are a contentious issue on SpoFi, but 'hired entertainers shouldn't humiliate the people who book them' is common sense.

posted by etagloh at 06:11 PM on July 25

Unwritten rules are a contentious issue on SpoFi, but 'hired entertainers shouldn't humiliate the people who book them' is common sense.

Where were you when I booked Tom Green and Andy Dick for my daughter's birthday party?

posted by wfrazerjr at 06:24 PM on July 25

... the nice little earner that comes from playing to full houses in the US will go away very quickly if you give the crowds the sense that you don't respect them or the teams they support.

Didn't think of it that way. I paid a small fortune to take five people to see Chelsea play Club America a few years ago at Cowboys Stadium (and glory before the might of Telemanjaro). I guess I would've been upset to see them putz around trying trick plays.

posted by rcade at 06:25 PM on July 25

Where were you when I booked Tom Green and Andy Dick for my daughter's birthday party?

I saw the pictures. Making them wear clown suits wasn't the best idea.

rcade: If you look at the support for big English clubs in Asia, only part of that's from TV and global branding: those summer tours to cultivate goodwill made a difference. Even though the opposition was poor, the games themselves were always played in a non-showboaty spirit.

The US game is in an awkward teenage stage right now. MLS teams are cultivating local fanbases the right way: regular fans may be looking for a 'second club' from abroad, while casuals may be drawn to the big stadium specials and come back for the local team. But there's also a self-consciousness about where MLS sits in relation to the world's best, and that has to be handled with care -- whether for economic self-interest, or for the growth of the game at large.

Watching it in real time, it appeared to me that Balotelli, having trotted past the Galaxy's back line thanks to a great through ball, thought 'who the fuck are you?', and afterwards, his teammates were saying 'what the fuck was that?' If it's a friendly, you can do that with 80 minutes on the clock when all the subs have come on and it's playtime. If it's competitive, do it when you're 4-0 up in a local derby.

posted by etagloh at 11:19 AM on July 26

What about the teammate that served him up the assist? I'm looking at the second striker and can hear "Dude, if you don't want to score, I do!"

It was poor sportsmanship all around, and I for one am glad that the Soccer fans of the world can respect that.

posted by LostInDaJungle at 04:24 PM on July 26

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