Popular Posts

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mario Balotelli could be dropped for big games, warns Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini has raised the prospect of leaving Mario Balotelli out of some of Manchester City's key matches because he cannot fully trust the player not to let down the team by getting himself into trouble with referees.

Balotelli's red card at Liverpool last weekend was his third in 16 months at the club and has left Mancini openly questioning whether a player he has mentored since their time together at Internazionale is mature enough to understand the potential consequences of being sent off. His conclusion for the time being is that Balotelli is simply "too young".

The City manager had some sympathy for the 21-year-old, arguing that opposition defenders were now deliberately setting out to "provoke" him, but he is also acutely aware that the striker has put himself in that position because of his self-destructive tendencies. For Mancini, the good has always outweighed the bad when it comes to Balotelli, but this was the first time he has talked openly about the possibility of omitting him in future matches.

"If Mario was still on the pitch against Liverpool we would have won the match," Mancini said. "With 11, I'm sure we could have won. But playing with 10, it was tough. He did this against Dynamo Kyiv last year [when City went out of the Europa League] and I should probably have paid more attention to this in the game against Liverpool and decided it was probably better to put on another of our strikers."

Asked whether he meant that he would have to think about leaving Balotelli out of City's bigger matches in the future, he replied: "Maybe. Against Liverpool I had Edin [Dzeko] and Mario on the bench. I thought Mario was good because we wanted to win and had only one striker on the pitch. But if I had put on Edin we would have kept 11 players on the pitch. This wouldn't have happened with Edin."

The problem, as Mancini conceded, is that Balotelli "can do these things at any moment", undermining the ability that has seen him score nine goals in his 13 appearances this season, five as a substitute. In total, Balotelli has played 41 games for City, scoring an impressive 19 times but also picking up 16 yellow cards to go with the three reds.

"I just hope that he stops," Mancini continued. "A defender can make a mistake and get a yellow card. But Mario's not a defender. He's a striker and usually it's difficult for a striker to get a yellow card. I took one red card in 20 years and I was the kind of player who put pressure on the referee in every match. Mario has had three in [what feels like] two weeks.

For a striker, it is impossible to keep getting yellow card, yellow card, yellow card. Mario needs to realise he's an important player for us if he can stay on the pitch, if he's clever and can help his team-mates and put pressure on the referee sometimes, because a top player does work like that sometimes. But Mario is too young at the moment to do this."

These were the words of a manager who is clearly thinking of leaving Balotelli out of City's final Champions League group stage match against Bayern Munich on Wednesday. City will go out of the competition unless they win and Napoli fail to do likewise against Villarreal.

As ever in the Mancini-Balotelli relationship there is the clear sense that the manager is speaking in the hope that the message will finally get through. It would be a surprise if the attacker does not figure against Norwich City on Saturday, and there were moments when Mancini was willing to defend a player he believes can become one of the world's top strikers.

"Mario has a lot of faults but referees have to understand that sometimes players will provoke him," Mancini said, before confirming that the player had not caused any damage to the away dressing room at Anfield. He was angry with himself but he didn't break the door. It was just screwed on badly."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts