“Why Always Me?” (October 2011)

It was October 2011 and the two Manchester clubs were already stamping their mark on the 2011-2012 Premier League season. Neither team had lost so far in domestic competition. Manchester City arrived at Old Trafford two points clear at the top of the table. Fulham had been the only side to take points off Roberto Mancini’s side in the current campaign.

Manchester United had made a rampant start too and were 100% at Old Trafford, with Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea all brushed aside with relative ease. This though would be a different story.

Manchester City’s maverick forward Mario Balotelli had made tabloid headlines hours’ earlier after setting off fireworks in his bathroom at his Manchester home. Fire crews were called out to deal with a substantial fire and although the Italian escaped unhurt, there was extensive fire and smoke damage to his luxury property.

So, he had some talking to do on the football pitch. Mancini elected to start with him alongside Sergio Aguero in-attack despite this latest escapade. It was an inspired decision. Midway through the first half, Balotelli opened the scoring from the edge of the penalty area, with his low shot beating David de Gea.

He then coolly lifted his shirt over his neck and revealed a t-shirt underneath, simply saying “Why Always Me?” It was a moment of calmness personified from a man who was never far away from the headlines. It is one of those memorable celebrations that remain in the minds with most football supporters.

Balotelli had a wonderful day. He added a second goal and was fouled by Jonny Evans that led to the dismissal of the United defender. Manchester City went on to humiliate their rivals 6-1 in their own backyard on a day when Balotelli had us all smiling…unless you were a Manchester United supporter.

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