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The Gordon Hill column: Balotelli, Beckham and some FA-prompted head scratching

This week I am going to talk about two issues in the game which I think are definitely worth talking about.

The first issue focuses on the future of Mario Balotelli, and the second centres around the call-up for David Beckham into the GB Olympics squad.

Plus I’ll focus on some rather strange calls from the FA.

Why always me? 

So, without further ado, I’ll start with Balotelli – and this must be the most famous quote of all by a present day footballer: Why always me?

What a record:

• 7 November 2010: Sent off in his fourth game for the club, after scoring both goals in the 2-0 win over West Brom.

• 17 March 2011: Sent off after 36 minutes of the 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev.

• 27 November 2011: Sent off in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool after picking up two yellow cards in 18 minutes.

• 25 January 2012: Banned for four games after being charged with violent conduct for a stamp on Spurs midfielder Scott Parker.

• 8 April: Receives the fourth red card of his City career against Arsenal.

He looks to have escaped the prospect of facing a six-game ban for his tackle on Alex Song in the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal. The referee for that game was Martin Atkinson and he took no action in the match, but reported that the incident had been seen, ruling out retrospective FA action. Then Balotelli was sent off after picking up yellow cards for two unrelated fouls.

Well, if the caps fits, wear it. Balotelli, the 21-year-old who thinks he owns the game, has played 22 games for his club and scored 13 league goals. Some say that is great, but look what goes with it: 4 red cards and bad tackles trying to put players out of the game.

Off the park he handles himself in the same manner – car crashes, parties and setting light to his house. So immature and inexperienced, and always looking to be the centre of attention.

Will he learn from his fortunate escape, courtesy of the FA? Of course he won't. In my eyes, he only puts the effort in when he wants to. Mancini is experienced enough to realise that if he cannot rely on his players, they are going to cost him. And that is why Balotelli is a liability.

I can tell you that he would not have stood a chance at Manchester United. He wouldn't be at United now - Sir Alex Ferguson would have moved him on. Championships are not just won on the field, the moulding of teams takes place in the dressing room as well.

You have to put your trust in each other and deliver the goods – and that has not been happening with Manchester City and particularly Balotelli. Sir Alex was the first to say 'you can buy players, but you have to build a team'. That has been proven in the last six weeks by the two Manchester clubs.

City have lost their way and they will have to go some to get it back, time is running out. The sooner Balotelli departs the better it will be for Mancini, and for Man City.

David Beckham and the Olympics – player or management?

Should David Beckham play for Team GB? Or would he be better utilised as the manager, or assistant to Stuart Pearce?

With the Olympics men's soccer teams only being able to have three players over the age of 23, the call up of David Beckham, with all the experience and competitive edge he has to offer, could be of help to Stuart Pearce. But to me, he would be better suited to a role as assistant coach rather than as a player.

He would have the respect of the GB youngsters, who have watched him play and admired his career with Manchester United, England, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy. But he would be more effective as an assistant to Stuart Pearce, and would be able to get more involved on the other side of playing – passing on his knowledge and experience.

He should not expect to be chosen for the Games because of his reputation and past performances, let alone his international fame. This would be disrespectful to the many senior British players still in the game who wish to take part, plus the next generation of players coming through, especially the younger players seeking to enjoy their chance of Olympic glory and the event itself.

The London Olympics can benefit from having Beckham involved. He could have even been named as Team GB manager which would have been just as good as him playing. He could lead the young players with his knowledge and take the strain off Pearce's shoulders, as he has too many roles at this moment.

That is the FA for you, with their strange decisions, which do not shock me. But please, please don't give it to David as a token gesture handed to him, to play in the greatest amateur show in sports. Let someone younger – and someone who deserves it – play instead. Some of you will disagree, no doubt, and some will agree, but that is my opinion.

By Gordon Hill

Gordon Hill was capped six times for England in the 1970s and made 132 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 51 goals. He scored both United goals in their 1976 FA Cup semi-final win against Derby and played in the Red Devils' 2-1 FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool in 1977.

He has played for Millwall, Derby, QPR and FC Twente, and managed Chester City and Hyde. He has also played in Finland, the USA and Canada, where he managed the Novia Scotia Clippers in the Canadian Soccer League.

As a media commentator, Hill has worked with Sky Sports, BBC, ITV and Talk Radio. He lives with his wife Claire in McKinney, Texas. Hill now owns and runs Texas-based club United FC


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