Mancini ready to give Balotelli a 'hundred chances'
SOCCER:Roberto Mancini says he is prepared to give Mario Balotelli “one hundred chances” after the striker clashed with the Manchester City manager during training on Thursday.
Mancini did, though, admit he was unsure whether Balotelli would still be at the club if he was not in charge. “I don’t know this,” the Italian said.
There is a sense that City may now listen to offers for Balotelli, so Mancini’s declaration of support could be to protect the player’s market value.
Balotelli had refused to leave the training pitch following a heavy tackle on team-mate Scott Sinclair, which Mancini described as deserving “two red cards”, with the manager pictured grabbing the striker’s training bib to forcibly remove him.
But the manager said: “I will give him another one hundred chances, if it is possible. I think he can change because I am here for this. I give him other chances, for sure. I think he should understand that the career of a player is very, very short. He is 22 but three, four and five years can pass in one second and I hope the day arrives when he understands his [quality]. I hope for this.
“[If] he doesn’t change, for him it will be very difficult in the future. For him, not me. Mario could stay with me one day, one month, five years. He is 22 years old. He needs to change. His problem is for himself.”
Lost his temper
Mancini admitted he lost his temper for “one or two seconds” but played down the incident, and stated he had no regrets. “For two seconds, yes [I lost my temper], because he didn’t want to leave the pitch. I did nothing. I know it is unusual for a manager to do this but I’m not regretful.
“It didn’t happen like bad things in the paper. We were playing a game and Mario kicked his team-mate. I say to him: ‘Go inside, leave the pitch’. He say: ‘No’. So I take his shirt and push him out. This is what really happened. Nothing special.
“No fight, no this not true. The pictures are false.”
Asked if the club’s hierarchy, which includes chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak, and the owner, Sheikh Mansour, support his stance on Balotelli, he said: “They always support me and the team and I think they are like me in that they hope every day Mario can change – to think only about his job and playing.”
Mancini would not be drawn on how his continuing public support may affect the rest of his squad. “What I hope every day is that he changes; he changes his [approach] – he should think only of his job and his life, only this,” he said.
Is the problem not that Balotelli thinks he will always be given a further chance?
“I don’t forgive him always,” Mancini said. “Sometimes he was out for three or four weeks [for a bad attitude in training]. But I hope he can understand. [Thursday] was nothing. Compared to other times, what he did was nothing.”
What of the reputation of the club? “I don’t know this. These sort of things can happen at any club. But the difference is that other clubs probably have screens around their [training] pitch. We don’t have a screen.”
When asked if Balotelli, who has been suffering from a virus, could start against Watford today in the FA Cup third-round tie, Mancini said:
“No, he trained only four times this week. Not in the starting line-up, maybe on the bench. I spoke with Mario yesterday after training; I speak with him always. It is not easy to manage him and we can talk about him, but my thoughts about him don’t change.”
Mancini, who is looking forward to a match-up with his countryman Gianfranco Zola, the manager of Watford, confirmed no one will be allowed to leave Manchester City during the current transfer window. “We need players in, not out,” he said.