If Super Mario Balotelli’s agent can resolve the wallpaper issues for his proposed Manchester apartment this week, the Inter striker has an MCFC Italian jinx to break…
Only two Italians have ever played for Manchester City and they were both centre forwards, in one case, alledgedly.
In both cases, neither player set East Manchester on fire, amid a combination of bad luck and an inability to settle.
It was Stuart Pearce, the former City touchline jester and now England second in command who brought Bernardo Corradi to town for around £2 million from Valencia almost 4 years ago to the day in summer 2006, as City teetered on the financial brink.
Corradi had flirted briefly with greatness for Italy and Lazio in the early 2000’s but the part time model never really found the consistency required to scale the heights and instead found a legion of birds scaling the drainpipes to his hotel rooms.
The dapper Italian made an ignominious debut for The Citizens in a 3-0 drubbing at Chelsea. Wound up by Michael Essien who had pulled his hair, Corradi, woefully off the pace, started sliding in on that season’s league runners up and got his marching orders.
Thereafter, it took him until November before he finally scored for The Blues. He bagged an unexpected brace against a lumbering Fulham side during which he indulged in some ‘we’ve arrived’ goal celebration tomfoolery with erstwhile City midfield mentalist Joey Barton where the pair indulged in ‘knighting’ each other to the toe curling disbelief of a confused Eastlands.
City’s dreadful 2006-2007 season ended up with City finishing 4 points clear of relegation. Corradi had managed to see red yet again by pathetically diving during a wholly predictable defeat at the swamp. A pisspoor 3 goals in 25 appearances sealed his fate as Psycho was sacked, Thaksin Shinawatra and Sven-Goran Eriksson came in, and off on loan he went to Parma.
Corradi remained on City’s books for another season before signing for Reggina on a free. Now 34, he’s still knocking about occasionally in Italy for Udinese.
City’s second Italian striker arrived at SportCity as Corradi’s taxi was departing for that season’s loan at Parma.
John Wardle had overseen City’s perilous battle to just about stay afloat and finally sold the club in summer 2007 to deposed ex Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his legion of advisers. In a now legendary whirlwind of 3 weeks mayhem, Frank brought Svennis in who immediately went on YouTube looking for badly needed players. One of these lads was Rolando Bianchi who had been banging goals in for fun at Reggina, no less. The fee was a reported £9 million.
Only 24 at the time, the more than capable front man scored memorably on a sun kissed debut in London where an all new City took West Ham to the cleaners and back in front at a stunned Upton Park.
But despite the odd goal, and despite his very real potential, Bianchi became severely homesick. His form dipped and he slipped to the bench. By January of that revolutionary season, enough was enough and Svennis set up a loan to Lazio.
At the end of the 2007-2008 season, Bianchi was signed for an undisclosed no doubt massively reduced fee by Torino where he has been hitting the net regularly ever since. He had scored 4 goals in 19 appearances for City.
It’s been well documented that Italian players in the main find it difficult adjusting to the high tempo cut and thrust of the Premier League and Manchester City’s two Italian imports are testament to that fact.
Should the young Balotelli join The Blues this week, he would be better set up than either the hapless Corradi or disappointing Bianchi ever were. The manager who gave him his Serie A debut and an array of Italian backroom staff are there for starters and senior figures like Paddy Vieira able to sound off to.
Internazionale striker Samuel Eto’o, who enjoyed a Parisian dalliance with City last season has in a show of previously unprecedented common sense publicly advised Super Mario that: ‘he must listen to the players at Manchester City. This is the chance for a fresh start.’
Here’s hoping if City do bag this extraordinary Italian talent, that he strikes it lucky for The Blues this time around!