Mancini omitted Balotelli due to 'attitude in training'
Roberto Mancini dropped Mario Balotelli from the Manchester City squad to face Tottenham last weekend because of “his attitude in training” and the manager has warned the striker it must improve.
Balotelli is yet to score in nine Premier League appearances this season, with Mancini trusting him to start in only five of those. He said: “Mario needs to work harder. It is the same for any player – it is difficult to play at this level if you don’t work [in training]. What you do in training will benefit you in the game. Every player needs to improve his performance and he will play well in the game. It is his attitude in training I’m talking about.”
Edin Dzeko also has nine league appearances yet despite making fewer starts – three to the Italian’s five – the Bosnian has scored six times. Although Dzeko has stated he is unhappy at not being in the starting XI he continues to make an impact as a substitute. Asked whether Balotelli can learn from this approach, Mancini, whose side host Aston Villa today, said: “I hope so but Mario is like Edin in that sometimes he can play well, sometimes he can’t.”
When contacted regarding Mancini’s stance, Mino Raiola, Balotelli’s agent, said: “I’m not willing to make any declarations at this time. I already said what I have to say [that Mario wants to stay] and I think making declarations about press conferences with Mancini is not helpful. We respect Roberto – if that’s his opinion, he’s the manager and we have to respect that.”
Balotelli was photographed on a night out on the eve of last Sunday’s game with Spurs but Mancini had no problem with this. “No, I told him he was out of the team on Saturday morning and after that he can do whatever he wants,” he said.
“I took the decision because he didn’t work well for three days and I don’t like this.
“Mario didn’t play because it was my choice. I have 20 players and if there are some players that don’t work well, they don’t deserve to play.”
Regarding reports that Mancini is interested in signing Luis Suarez, the manager said: “It is not true. We have a good team and we don’t need to buy another player in January. We can’t buy Suarez or another player because we have four strikers and Suarez plays for Liverpool.”