The match reports for the Liverpool vs. Man City game could barely disguise their anticipation at a mention of Mario Balotelli, several of them leading with the young fireball's name in their articles.
Funny thing was, he was at most a substitute that Mancini felt he might have had faith in who ended up coming shy of a couple of 50/50s in less than 20 minutes.
Mario Balotelli remains one of the most exciting young talents in football, because of his sometimes surprising genius and his ability to take advantage of a situation. He could learn to control his rage, and it is hoped he can bring that into bear in the coming years.
Does it make some uncomfortable to speak of rage?
The harebrained anger that comes upon you when something is so infuriatingly aggravating that something must be held accountable, occasionally an inanimate object (Is that crazy to write that?) or a passing heavy gust of wind perhaps.
Back to Balotelli, though. He is the archetypal enigma, unpredictability that creates adoration, the excitement that some could have if only they lived by the seat of their pants like Balotelli does.
People see him score goals like a seasoned pro—the first goal at Old Trafford was a touch Bergkamp would have been proud of.
Of course, the following celebration had some up in arms, even though it was an hilarious observation of a constantly affirmed egotist. "Why always me?" He is the center of his own universe and the center of many other people's. The T-shirt was worth a good chuckle at some stage.
His play can actually be quite mesmeric at moments, though infrequently at times.
A player who seems capable of the most amazing guile in one quick flick, and quite different to players who stand over the ball waving feet about in a distracting fashion. That said, his control and dribbling are quite special at times and certainly contribute to the whole.
Mancini has become one of the most pragmatic coaches in the game. He retains a strategy focused on a solid base leading to the chance to create a victory.
Some would say it is his Italian heritage, though others might say it is heritage of triumph. Invariably, champions remember how they won, and if Mancini sees the magic of a title-winning maestro in Balotelli, you would have to say that he is quite well-knowledged with which to make that assumption.
This alone gives him more street credit than many managers will ever get.
Anyone who came out of the '90s in Italy with a medal was top-notch—the players on show in that league in that decade were phenomenal.
Which is why, when a manager like Mancini takes an interest in a player like Balotelli, it is noticeable. He seems the total package at times—and that could be part of his anger.
With the hopelessness in knowing you are the best of the best and that there are few competitors who ever measure up, complacency would creep in.
Wouldn't it be funny to play with the populace, exhibiting strange behavior for mere laughs in private? Leading with elbows? Could it be this genius footballer is just taking the piss?
Or is he the painted picture the media would portray? The braying bull, angry at his capture, butting all and sundry, raging at the bit.
This writer is of the mind that Balotelli has much more to show and much more mastery to complete before the true verdict could ever be ascertained.
With Mancini as his mentor, you would have to say he is in excellent hands.