A furious Roberto Mancini has hit out at Manchester City's increasingly unpopular star Italian striker Mario Balotelli, in the aftermath of City's 0-1 defeat to Arsenal in a league game at the Emirates on Sunday night. Mancini warned his star that unless he changed his behaviour and improved his life, his career as a footballer would be over, according to a report in The Sun.
"It's clear he's created big problems but he's scored important goals. He needs to change his behaviour if he wants to improve his life, as I've seen players finish in two or three years with huge talent. If he doesn't understand this, after two years I can do nothing. I hope for him he can improve and understand he can continue to play for his future and his talent. I'm very sorry for him. He should change it. He must change it. I hope for him he will," Mancini explained.
The visitors went into the game with the knowledge that title rivals Manchester United had just beaten QPR 2-0, albeit in a hugely controversial game, and extended their lead at the top of the table to eight points. A defeat to Arsenal, with only six games remaining after that would all but ensure the title was United's for a record 20th time.
Unfortunately for Mancini, not only did the liability that is Mario Balotelli strike against his side but he came to face with an inspired Arsenal side who completely dominated the game and deserved all three points.
As a result of the game being so important and given Mancini's earlier remarks about not being able to trust or Balotelli or that if he were his team-mate, he would punch him every day, it was a huge surprise that the Italian started his countryman. The general feeling was proved right when a petulant Balotelli only narrowly escaped a straight red card, after 20 minutes, when he went with studs up on Alex Song. However, the Italian's temper would not be denied and he was cautioned in the 38th minute, for a foul on Bacary Sagna and he did finally receive the red card he deserved earlier in the game, when he was ejected after a second bookable offence on, again, Sagna.
Mancini's pleading with Balotelli to mend his ways has had little impact over the course of the season. According to The Sun, he has been sent off twice this season - a third red card will fetch him a three-match ban and any investigation into his tackle on Song is likely to land him into even more serious trouble. Balotelli, apart from being red carded too often, also seems to have a destructive effect on team harmony, as evinced by his on-field bust-up with team-mate Aleksandar Kolarov, during City's 3-3 draw with Sunderland.
In addition to his disciplinary problems, Balotelli has also had issues off the pitch - the more recent transgressions include training ground arguments with team-mate Micah Richards and Mancini himself, as well as the gate-crashing of an Inter Milan press conference.
Apart from Mancini, calls to reform himself have also been made by the media in his homeland and the coach of the Italian national team, Cesare Prandelli, both of whom would like to see the player lead the line at the 2012 European Championships.
A Telegraph report quoted Italian newspaper Gazzetta delio Sport as saying: "Call, Mario. Call for the love of God. Telephone Prandelli and swear you'll be good."
Apparently Balotelli didn't read that bit.
"When Balotelli begins to behave well he will get a call-up. He has been handed eight games in suspensions so far in England, which is a lot. A great player must be able to face provocation and should not react. He can still have an extraordinary career, but there is no justification for certain types of behaviour," Prandelli said in the Telegraph article, which was published in March, explaining Balotelli's omission from recent national team games.