No matter what, they always returned to one another. The quarrels, the disbelief, the losses in composure never once compromised this enduring relationship, ruined it beyond repair. Roberto Mancini, the coach of Manchester City, couldn’t stop loving Mario Balotelli. And even though the two will part again, for the second time in five years, they do so only in person, not in spirit, not forever.
Mancini, before watching his side draw with lowly Queens Park Rangers, met with his 22-year-old pupil in a London hotel and most likely cried with him. “It was emotional,” Mancini later said. Like a parent, Mancini did what was best for Mario: he let him go. You could hear in the manager’s voice and in his words, as he tried to rationalize the player’s move to AC Milan with reporters after the match on Tuesday, a sense of regret, perhaps even a little disappointment in himself that he couldn’t raise his student any more.