Skip to main content

Bad boy Balotelli drives Manchester City manager to despair

April 6, 2012 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)
Roberto Mancini sympathizes with his frustrated Manchester City squad, admitting he would punch striker Mario Balotelli.
Roberto Mancini sympathizes with his frustrated Manchester City squad, admitting he would punch striker Mario Balotelli.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "I would punch him in the head if we were teammates," manager Mancini says of Balotelli
  • Allegations of locker room bust-up between Yaya Toure and Balotelli during Sunderland match
  • Controversy continues to follow Balotelli after he crashes his car in Manchester city center
  • Mancini must now find answer to the "Mario problem" if he is to appease frustrated squad

(CNN) -- How do you solve a problem like Mario Balotelli? After an eventful fortnight that saw the Manchester City striker gatecrash a press conference, row with teammates and crash his Bentley, it's perhaps no wonder that his club manager Robert Mancini has been driven to despair.

When reporters this week quizzed Mancini over an alleged locker room bust-up between Balotelli and teammate Kolo Toure, the Italian sympathized with his frustrated squad.

"I can understand it. I told him (Mario), if you played with me 10 years ago I would give you every day maybe one punch in your head," Mancini said ahead of Sunday's trip to Arsenal -- a match that could have a big bearing on the English title race.

"I think in every big game he played very well. I think his problem is his concentration, but I work with him every day.

"I speak with him -- not every day because if not I need a psychologist -- but every two days I speak with him."

I told him, if you played with me 10 years ago I would give you every day maybe one punch in your head
Man City manager Robert Mancini

It was one of Mancini's most frank discussions about the troubled player who earlier this season set off fireworks in his bathroom with a group of friends, causing severe damage.

The controversy continued with Balotelli gatecrashing new Inter Milan boss Andrea Stramaccioni's first press conference late last month. The ex-Inter player unexpectedly entered the press room as Stramaccioni was being formally unveiled as Claudio Ranieri's replacement.

Just days later he again aggravated the football world, being reportedly involved in a dressing-room row with Yaya Toure during second-placed City's 3-3 draw with Sunderland. In the same game, in which he scored twice but was criticized for his performance, Balotelli also argued with teammate Aleksandar Kolarov over who should take a free-kick.

"Yaya Toure -- that is totally false," Mancini said. "What happened with Kolarov on the pitch, that is a situation that can happen in difficult moments.

I speak with him - not every day because if not I need a psychologist
Man City manager Robert Mancini

"It is not good but I can understand this situation can happen. After the game it was finished. I am not worried -- it is important that after the game everything was okay."

Then there was Thursday's car crash in Manchester city center. Balotelli, driving his Bentley at the time, escaped unhurt, while a passenger from one of the other vehicles involved was taken to hospital as a precaution, according to police.

With Balotelli's erratic antics continuing to grab headlines, Mancini may be pressed to find an answer soon -- especially if he is to quell locker room bust-ups and his squad's growing suspicions there is one rule for Mario and another for the rest.

But despite the aggravation, Mancini refuses to completely condemn the 21-year-old Italian.

"Because when you have a player like Mario you should always not talk bad things against him because he is your teammate. If you say something about him, it's better to talk face-to-face, to say what you think," he said.

"Mario is young. He can do some mistakes. He has paid for his mistake. I can understand (why players are annoyed.) I understand this. But there are different ways to help guys like Mario."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
Dutch football team head coach Louis van Gaal (L) and Dutch's assistant coach Patrick Kluivert (R) look on before a friendly football match between Belgium and Netherlands in Brussels on August 15, 2012.
Should the Manchester United board have insisted upon a more radical overhaul of the club's football operation when Alex Ferguson stepped down?
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
Sunday Oliseh plays for NIgeria at the 1998 World Cup in France.
When Sunday Oliseh was a young boy, he never dreamed he would one day carry the hopes of 170 million people on football's biggest stage.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
ADVERTISEMENT