Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has told mercurial striker Mario Balotelli he must improve his attitude.
Balotelli did not even make the bench for last Sunday’s Premier League defeat of Tottenham after disappointing Mancini with his training-ground performances in the preceding days.
It later emerged the 22-year-old had been in a nightclub until the early hours of Sunday morning, but Mancini had already informed his fellow Italian he was dropped and so no curfew was broken.
Mancini said: “I think Mario needs to work harder. If any player doesn’t work hard, it is difficult that he can play at this level. What you do in training you do in the game, and every player needs to work hard to improve his performance in the training sessions. After that, he can play well in the game.”
When asked about the night out, Mancini said: “He was out of the team on Saturday morning. He could do what he wanted.
“I told him this was the reason — because he didn’t work well for three days.”
After Balotelli watched City’s 2-1 win over Spurs from the stands, fresh reports emerged claiming he was unhappy and linking him with a January return to Italy. Balotelli has endured a frustrating campaign to date, having failed to score in the Premier League.
That has seen him slip to fourth-choice striker behind Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko but Mancini, whose side host Aston Villa today, insists he remains an important part of his plans.
Mancini has been fiercely loyal to his former Inter Milan protege and says no parting of the ways is imminent.
The 47-year-old, however, does not want to go as far as Balotelli’s agent, who has claimed the pair are like a married couple.
Mancini said: “I know Mario like a guy, like the other players. But I am a manager — he is a player.
“If he doesn’t work well, he doesn’t play. Like the other players, nothing changes.
“He is my player. Sometimes he plays well, sometimes not well but he is an important player for us. We don’t think of selling him in January.”
Mancini expects Balotelli, whose two goals this season have come in the Capital One Cup and Champions League, to continue fighting for his place and believes he offers something different.
He said: “His position is this — centre-forward. He can play wide but (with) the four strikers we have, he can only play sometimes.
“If we want to play two or three strikers, Mario is the only player that can play wide left or right because he is young. The other players — Carlos, Sergio, Edin — are different.”
Meanwhile, Balotelli’s younger brother Enoch Barwuah has signed for Evostik First Division North side Salford City. The 19-year-old striker previously had trials with Premier League sides Stoke and Sunderland.
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