In the new issue: Mario's homecoming, the making of Mourinho & a chat with Michu

He was never likely to stay quiet for long, was he? With the ink barely dry on his new contract, Mario Balotelli is the cover star of the April 2013 issue of FourFourTwo – out now digitally and in print – as we bring you the inside story of his return to Italy.

We have tales of near-riots at restaurants, a dream two-goal debut and a brush with the law outside an airport. All this from a man Italy coach Cesare Prandelli claims has “found some serenity” since returning home.

While English football wipes a tear from its eye and waves goodbye to Super Mario, FFT also focuses on the man left picking up the pieces following his departure. We trace the career of Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini back to his playing prime in Italy. Between his lethal partnership with Gianluca Vialli at Sampdoria and his fiery on-pitch protests against officials and journalists, we find a man more similar to his exasperating former charge than you might think.

But of course, Mancini isn’t the only coach to have struggled when controlling particularly individualistic players. We look at some of the game’s other ‘Unmanageables’. From Robin Friday turning up drunk to training carrying a swan, to Edmundo “borrowing” a monkey from a local zoo, via the gun-toting Faustino Asprilla and ref-stamping Hristo Stoichkov, we show that letting off fireworks in your bathroom is actually fairly tame.

From players nobody wants to manage to those everyone does. We take a look at some of the January bargains who are already impressing in the Premier League. Find out how midfield dynamo Lewis Holtby could help take Spurs to the next level, why Arsenal really need Nacho Monreal, how Moussa Sissoko has matched up to Spain’s finest and how Philippe Coutinho has found “a Dad” in compatriot Lucas Leiva.

Perhaps the ultimate bargain of the season has been Swansea’s super-Spaniard Michu. The £2.2 million man chats to FFT about finding his feet in Wales, being overlooked by the national side and how he sees himself as “a mini Russell Crowe”.

FFT takes a trip back in time to when the scourge of Barcelona, Jose Mourinho, was on the staff at Camp Nou – where he provided Bobby Robson with the best scouting reports he’d ever seen and was chummy with one P.Guardiola. We trace Jose’s journey from translator to tactical mastermind by speaking to those who were there.

No magazine gets more access to legends than FourFourTwo, and in this month's One-on-One it's Michael Ballack answering your questions. The battling former Chelsea midfielder talks ice skating, learning football “the communist way” and Elton John: wedding singer.

Ever wondered what it’s like to get sent off in a World Cup final? Or get in a 26-man ruck on the pitch? How about dating a member of Atomic Kitten? We get to the bottom of these, and other unique football posers with the help of Pedro Monzon, Perry Groves, Lee Trundle and various other current and ex-pros.

We’ve all heard the phrase “his left foot is only good for standing on”, but what has happened to the truly two-footed players? Arsene Wenger, Diego Forlan and former Manchester United youth coach Eric Harrison discuss whether it’s really a modern phenomenon or if the best footballers have always been one-footed. 

As if their tetchy first-team clashes weren’t enough, we bring you yet another Barcelona vs Real Madrid fixture: the Mini Clasico. For the first time since 1998, the reserve sides of the two Spanish giants went head-to-head, and FourFourTwo was pitchside to bring you the inside track.

One man, 12 clubs, 700 games, nearly 250 goals. We take you inside the home and inside the mind of veteran forward Jamie Cureton. Now enjoying a new lease of life at Exeter City, the cult hero tells FFT why he said ‘no’ to Fergie, how he ended up playing in South Korea and why he’s living with his Mum aged 37.

If that’s not enough for your monthly football read, we’ve also gone inside talkSPORT for an in-depth look at the world of the football phone-in, grabbed an exclusive word with Schalke loanee Ibrahim Afellay, talked to Michel Salgado on doping, to David Haye on Danny Shittu, discovered stats on the world’s most prolific academies and, of course, brought you our monthly Performance section.

FourFourTwo: There really is no substitute. 


The April 2013 issue of FourFourTwo was brought to you by Michu, Demba Ba, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Michael Kightly, Freddie Sears, Alan Connell, Diego Simeone, Michael Ballack, Sean St Ledger, Jimmy Gilligan, Pedro Monzon, Jamie Cureton, Diego Forlan, Perry Groves, Giles Barnes, Gary Mabbutt, Fredi Kanoute, Graham Poll, David Busst, Anton Hysen, Michel Salgado, Mark Noble, Paddy Amond, Phil Chisnall, Brian Deane, Andres Vasquez, Steven Pienaar, Dele Adebola, Mickey Thomas, Warren Feeney, Ramon Morales, Marcus Bent, Eric Harrison, Michael Reiziger, Leroy Rosenior, Lee Trundle, Danny Kelly, Paul Hawksbee, Dietmar Hamann, Urs Meier, Mike McCurry, Tony Cottee, Jordi Cruyff, Paul Parker, David Haye, Ibrahim Afellay, Carlton Palmer, England’s six-a-side team and Fiorentina youngster Jackson Beckham Diego Socrates da Silva de Jesus.

GET IT HERE Read the new issue digitally or subscribe to the print edition