Summer Sportsblog: Balotelli proves himself as Wimbledon hots up

He’s truculent, he’s infuriating, he’s as likely throw free money to you in Manchester City Centre as he is to throw a dart at your head or blow his own bathroom up, but on Thursday night, the man everyone now slightly annoyingly calls ‘Super Mario’ came so good for Italy.

Recently, listening to pundits over the Manchester City forward has been like reading the most awful and stereotypical of Daily Mail-style articles on modern youth – old men protesting about how these young people are totally out of control, a threat to moral decency.

Alan Hansen has taken it upon himself to be the most unwanted messiah figure since Harold Camping, attempting to encourage the defamation of Balotelli at every turn.

‘He has become damaging distraction’  he wrote (incredibly, despite it being words on paper, it still had a dour Scottish tone) back in April after Balotelli’s antics against Sunderland at the end of March, where he squared up to Kolarov and was apparently about to be substituted ‘after five minutes’ by Roberto Mancini.

The only thing Balotelli provides a distraction from is the usually embarassing antics of modern footballers, he is superb entertainment, an example of how to carry on through great adversity, as his troubled childhood and horrific sufferance of racial abuse prove, and most of all, a very talented footballer.

The BBC gets its fair share of knocks for its programming, not least when it comes to sport, but yesterday (as this is written), they hit a quite spectacular jackpot, for as the Germans were sobbing at the hands of the Italian wizards on BBC One, one of the great tennis upsets of recent years was unfolding on BBC Two.

The channel was supposed to be showing Mock the Week, but perhaps were hurried into bumping that show after star Chris Addison tweeted that he would ‘personally storm the BBC’ if they stopped showing Wimbledon – this I would have loved to see, but not as much as Lukas Rosol’s final ace, slashed at over 100mph after 10pm, past a  totally bewildered Rafael Nadal.

The British reaction to such a result has disappointed me slightly however – after the Beeb attempted for nearly an hour to persuade the viewer that watching Elena Baltacha being obliterated by Petra Kvitova was more entertaining watching, before reluctantly switching to this titanic encounter, Tim Henman was quick to call Rosol’s greatest triumph a ‘freak’.

There was nothing freakish about those 95mph forehand winners, just the most scintillating tennis of Wimbledon thus far.

Finally, the news of David Beckham’s omission from the GB Olympic squad has been greeted by online outrage, called as high treason against a deity of British sport.

I do like Beckham – he was a good footballer, and seems like a worthy patriot, a loving father and a good man. But the overage player choices for the squad are perfect – the best (fit) Englishman not to go to Euro 2012 in Micah Richards, the drive and desire of Craig Bellamy, and Ryan Giggs, arguably the best player never to grace a major tournament finals.


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