Sun, Dec 26, 2010 - Page 19 News List

Time for Balotelli to deliver, Man City boss Mancini says

AFP, MANCHESTER, ENGLAND

Roberto Mancini has warned Mario Balotelli that he must do his talking on the pitch after claiming his moody demeanor is doing him more harm than good at Manchester City.

Balotelli has never been far away from courting controversy.

The Italian striker this week dismissed Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere as “Jack who?” in assessing the man who finished runner-up as Europe’s best young player.

That appraisal came within hours of Balotelli even claiming he is about to make as big an impact on the game as Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has achieved.

Now the Manchester City manager has stepped in and told his striker to forget his own hype and concentrate on matters on the pitch, starting against at Newcastle today.

And Mancini — who expects the Italian to be fit despite going off injured during last Monday’s defeat by Everton — feels his first move should be to adopt a lighter approach by playing with a smile, rather than a scowl, on his face.

“He must improve in this situation,” Mancini said. “You need to smile to play football, that is the best thing you can do. It is good when a player has confidence in himself.”

“Mario Balotelli has everything you need to be one of the best players in the world but he must improve and he must show it,” he said. “Only if you play well in every game can you say these things. It depends on him.”

“The Premier League is so different from the Italian league. Mario must understand. If he thinks what he says he must show it in every game,” Mancini said.

“But he’s happy. He is in a fantastic team playing in probably the best league in the world,” he said.

“He is special because he has great attributes to play football but you have to put with that your heart, your strength on the pitch,” the Italian said.

“If not, I know plenty of players, talented like Mario, who didn’t play football for a top team,” Mancini said. “He has to prove he has the character to play at the top level.”

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