Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has hit out at Mario Balotelli, telling the temperamental Manchester City striker it’s time to back up his words with actions.
Balotelli was fined one week’s wages this week following his latest indiscretion in which he was pictured outside a strip club two nights before last weekend’s home game against Bolton.
He was also dropped for Italy’s last match, a 1-0 friendly defeat at home to the USA, as a disciplinary measure as he was serving a club ban for kicking Spurs midfielder Scott Parker in the head.
Speaking to former Oasis man and Man City fan Noel Gallagher in an interview that will be screened on the BBC’s Football Focus show today, Balotelli, 21, acknowledged he needed to mature.
Prandelli says words alone are not enough.
“I know he wants to be an integral part of this group but now he has to move on from saying to doing,” he said.
“We need to grow together, he doesn’t have to resolve his problems on his own but he just needs to ask for help.”
Prandelli’s decision to drop Balotelli for the USA game was even more damaging given first choice strike pair Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi are both injured.
And given Italy are one of Ireland’s Group C opponents in Euro 2012, the spat between Prandelli and Balotelli and the country’s injury struggles are sure to have been noted by Giovanni Trapattoni.
Trapattoni will have been further encouraged by Prandelli’s acknowledgement that without his top players, Italy will struggle in the Euros.
“With 90 days to go before the Euros we need to get some players back because the last few matches have shown we have problems without those important players,” he said.
Prandelli wasn’t the only one to hit out at Balotelli yesterday, with Manchester United legend Eric Cantona accusing the 21-year-old of ‘calculated’ attention seeking.
Referring to the infamous ‘Why always me?’ t-shirt that Balotelli displayed after scoring in City’s 6-1 victory over their derby rivals, Cantona added: “I never had anything on a T-shirt, never calculated anything. Every action is unique, every reaction unique.”
Balotelli is likely to start tomorrow’s potentially tricky trip to Swansea as City look to maintain their two-point advantage over United.
Carlos Tevez, who marked his first public appearance in a City shirt for more than five months with a goal in a reserve game this week, is unlikely to figure due to a lack of match fitness.
Balotelli says City fans shouldn’t boo the Argentine when he does return.
“If they make pressure on Carlos, they make pressure to all the team, so they should do nothing,’’ he said. “I think everyone can make a mistake. Carlos is part of the team. He’s just a part of the team, so everybody loves him.”
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