The weekend saw two titans of the Premier League play out the first instalment of what promises to be the most decisive set of fixtures in this year’s domestic campaign.
Forgetting for one moment that Sunday’s Manchester derby was a battle of epic proportions - to the extent that one City fan actually threw half a week’s wages at Rio Ferdinand, exorcising his own personal demons through the medium of littering - it was the all too familiar sight of the moodiest millionaire in the world that stole the show for me.
In Mario Balotelli the blue half of Manchester has on their books a man-child whose petulant attitude off the pitch far outweighs his ability on it.
He encapsulates everything that the Premier League doesn’t stand for: no work ethic, no team ethic and an infectious body language that drags anyone in a ten metre vicinity of him into a vacuum of despair.
Such was the impact of the Italian on Sunday’s game, you could actually see Sergio Aguero shrinking within himself every time he got near his strike partner.
The only person at the Etihad to respond with anything other than delight when the former Inter Milan player was dragged off, was Balotelli himself.
His reaction was predictably poor, and as the ‘Prince Of Pathetic’ stormed down the tunnel ignoring the outstretched arm of his manager it did beg the question- has anyone ever hated being a multi-millionaire footballer as much as him?
Well, there are a few. Most notably his strike partner Carlos Tevez, who is never far from controversy.
He was only too happy to forgo millions of pounds last year to work on his short game on the sun drenched golf courses of Buenos Aires, in a mid-season mental breakdown that nearly cost him his career.
A glance at the history books reveals the role of ‘moody striker’ in the footballing fraternity is by no means restricted to this era.
Who can forget the troubled relationship Stan Collymore shared with our national pastime?
His disdain for the game resulted in perhaps the most undignified ending to a top flight career in modern history.
Once the most expensive player in English football, Collymore found himself a faded force at the age of 30, unable to maintain a serious enough interest in the game to train with any regularity.
A move to Real Oviedo in Spain, and the opportunity to ply his trade in La Liga in the twilight of his career, seemed the perfect antidote.
Alas, the former Liverpool forward made just two substitute appearances for Los Azules in a five week spell with the club that ended with him retiring from football all together.
Challenged by Coach Radomir Antic to get himself fit, the sulky Brummy chose instead to retire, much to horror of his new employers who had invested huge wages in him and organised an excited entourage of 1500 fans at the airport upon his arrival in the country.
Within the year he’d been dragged into court by Oviedo for breach of contract- not exactly the retirement party he had been planning.
The prospect of facing legal action as a result of treating the game with complete contempt should set alarm bells ringing in the ears of Balotelli who, at this rate, will need to sell everything he owns as well as a kidney to pay back the money invested in him by Manchester City.
If that doesn’t galvanise him into action then the prospect of joining Channel 5’s Pat Nevin on a Thursday night in Lithuania for the latest edition the world’s most pointless competition, the Europa League, should do the trick.