Premier League - Paper Round: Balotelli blamed amid Manc mayhem

There's only one story in the back pages on Monday: the insane Manchester Derby that saw United grab a late winner and Rio Ferdinand covered in blood after being hit by a coin.

Premier League - Balotelli calls off tribunal

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Mario Balotelli (AFP)

The headlines say it all: "Madness" trumpets the Daily Mirror, "Mayhem" screams the Telegraph, "Manchester runs red with blood" says the always-apocalyptic Daily Mail, while the Express focuses on the wound to Ferdinand's face with the headline "Derby day shame".

The ramifications of the violence at the derby occupy the back page of the The Times as well, with the paper predicting stiff punishments for the reigning Premier League champions over their fans' behaviour.

Inside the back pages, most of the newspaper columnists point the finger of blame at one man after the defeat: Mario Balotelli.

"Manchester City took an £18 million punt on Mario Balotelli, and with every selection of the moody Blue, Roberto Mancini is piling more casino chips on a losing hand," writes Matt Dickinson in The Times. "City's owners have patience, but it only stretches so far."

Mark Lawrenson in the Daily Mirror is less eloquent, but even more scathing. "If I were Roberto Mancini this morning I would call Mario Balotelli into my office. I would also get hold of his agent and say: 'Right Mario, sort out your transfer, you can leave tomorrow.' Honestly, I would sell him on the first of January if I could. Because he was an absolute disgrace yesterday."

The Sun also points the finger at a single culprit, with the back page claiming that Mancini actually blamed goalkeeper Joe Hart for the defeat, apparently telling Hart, "It's your fault."

It's a different player who is at the centre of things in the Daily Star: "Welcome to Vanchester" the headline runs above a picture of matchwinner Robin Van Persie and a tagline reading: "Red-hot Robin gives Fergie a title boost".

Only the Daily Mail are old-fashioned enough to suggest that football is a team game, Ian Ladyman claiming that it is still the elusive missing team spirit that is costing Mancini's men. "City may still have the better players. They do not, however, have the best team," he concludes.

The Racing Post takes a different angle, ignoring the bloodshed to report that Manchester United are now 4-7 on to win the Premier League after the victory in the Manchester Derby.

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The betting paper reports that the "wild celebrations were justified" after "another decisive moment for United", predicting that the victory - which leaves United six points clear - looks set to cost City the title. Rash words considering that City won the title from eight points back with just a handful games to play at the end of last season.

The bulk of the day's transfer news revolves around high-profile loan spells for MLS stars, with the Daily Mail claiming that Thierry Henry is on the verge of agreeing a new loan spell at Arsenal which will see him play in the FA Cup clash against Swansea on January 6.

The Daily Mirror reports that there will be a three-way fight to sign Robbie Keane for a few months, with Aston Villa, QPR and Norwich all fighting it out for the Irishman's signature.

But Keane himself is said to prefer taking advantage of the long off-season in US football, to recover from the aches and pains of the season.

Considering that his choice appears to be between spending his winter in a multi-million dollar beach house in southern California or getting his shins kicked in for three of the least glamorous clubs in the top flight, we can see where he's coming from.

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