Mario Balotelli's latest bout of bad behaviour has laid down the gauntlet for Roberto Mancini to prove his worth as a manager and deal with what is becoming a real problem for Manchester City. As far as I am concerned, the best way he can do that is to sell the player and rid his squad of a damaging element. However, they might struggle to find a buyer.
Mancini was right to substitute Balotelli immediately after his ridiculous showboating against LA Galaxy on Sunday and most managers would have done the same. You would expect the player to understand why he had been taken off, hang his head in shame and apologise.
Instead Balotelli berated Mancini and asked him why he had been removed, before petulantly hurling a water bottle to the ground. You expect that kind of reaction from a 10-year-old kid, not from a professional footballer.
When you take a step back and survey the scene, it is clear Balotelli is a bad apple. It is counter-productive to have a player like him in the squad. When they are not playing they cause problems and their team-mates know they cannot trust him.
Look at what happened in the Europa League last season when Balotelli was dismissed for a ridiculous high challenge and City were knocked out by Dynamo Kiev 2-1 on aggregate. You can't trust him and you don't know what he is going to do next, so at the end of the day you need to move on.
Mancini has given the player yet another warning instead of actually confronting the problem head-on. The best way of dealing with him is for Mancini to go to his bosses and say, 'right, we have to cut our losses here' and get rid of Balotelli.
I don't see a long-term future for him at City. In truth I don't think anyone can. It isn't just Manchester City either; you begin to question his long-term future in the game itself. He is locked in a contract and is paid huge amounts of money, but he should be on a one-year deal and told to earn a longer stay and prove himself. How many clubs would want to take the gamble on him?
It seems unlikely that he will turn things around at City and so Mancini has to make a big decision for the sake of the team and the club. He has to look at his side ahead of what is a very important season and consider whether he needs a destabilising element in his midst.
Mancini brought him in from Inter believing he can change him, but he can't; it is as simple as that. He cannot control Balotelli and if Mancini keeps faith with him much longer, and if he keeps allowing him to get away with what he is doing, then players will start to question him as a manager.
He will lose some of his other players, and it is my opinion that he already fails to command the backing of the entire squad. The players have already seen how Carlos Tevez has conducted himself, only to remain as captain last season, when he got away with murder.
I have never been in a dressing room with a personality quite like Balotelli, but back when I played think my team-mates would have sorted it out. You also had managers who were more clinical back then and they would have prioritised the group over the individual and would have got to grips with the issue. In my opinion, Mancini hasn't done that. He hasn't got to grips with the situation from the off.
Every other top manager would have done. Even Arsene Wenger - who doesn't seem the ruthless kind in that respect, and can indulge his players - would have dealt with it somewhere down the line.
I haven't seen enough of Balotelli to really assess him as a player because he was restricted to just 12 Premier League starts last season. I've seen some flashes of brilliance, but far too many moments of madness. He hasn't yet demonstrated that he is worth all the hassle and that Mancini should stick by him.
Often it is said you should turn a blind eye to certain players' bad habits because if you get it right they could be world beaters, but Balotelli hasn't shown anything like that kind of ability. He still has to prove how good he is in Manchester before thinking about the world.
In all honesty, we shouldn't have to be talking about Balotelli's character quirks yet again with a new season approaching. We talked enough about him last season, what with his darts antics and repeated brushes with the media, and the next big story involving him should be news of a transfer away from the club.