Enigmatic. Mercurial. Immature.
These words all describe Mario Balotelli perfectly, though none can excuse the Manchester City star for his latest misstep.
Mad Mario was up to his dirty, immature tricks again on Sunday, going out of his way to stomp Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Scott Parker during City's 3-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium. Balotelli had a shot blocked by Parker and, as he came down, went out of his way to catch Parker's head under his cleats while pirouetting back to the pitch.
Balotelli, who came on for Edin Dzeko in the 65th minute, was booked for the offense, but wasn't tossed from the match for it. That decision by the referee ultimately came back to bite the Spurs and boost City, as Balotelli put through the winning goal on a penalty kick in the 95th minute.
From attempting back heels in club friendlies to burning down his house with fireworks, Balotelli is no stranger to damning antics both on and off the pitch. That said, this latest offense figures to (and should) cost the Italian wunderkind significant punishment of some sort, whether handed down by Man City boss Roberto Mancini or the authorities at the Football Association.
It's one thing for players to berate and verbally abuse one another in the heat of competition. It's another for a repeat offender with a reputation like Balotelli's to intentionally attempt to cause potentially severe physical harm to an opponent.
And for that, Mad Mario deserves a good, old-fashioned "time out."