Mancini: Lay off Balotelli
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says he can work well with Mario Balotelli and that the criticism of his new striker is out of order.
Mancini's attitude is in stark contrast to that of Jose Mourinho. The former Inter Milan coach was frequently left exasperated by the 20-year-old's actions last season and reportedly claimed the player was unmanageable. Mourinho has moved on to take charge of Real Madrid while Balotelli could make his debut against Timisoara in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday with Roque Santa Cruz exiting the squad.
City are allowed to make one change to their original list before tomorrow midnight with Balotelli included - even though England midfielder James Milner is apparently about to arrive from Aston Villa. Mancini said: "I know Mario. He was in Serie A with me when he was 17. I don't think I will have a problem with him.
"I worked with him for a year and I didn't have any problems with him. I think it was unfair (the criticism). It's because he's a young guy, we all make mistakes when you're a young guy. Today we have a strong, young player who can be very good for the future. If you want to be a good team it's very important that you buy young players."
Balotelli refused to become involved in a slanging match and added: "I do not want to talk about him (Mourinho). He is not my coach any more."
On the day Balotelli was officially unveiled to the media, Milner moved closer to sealing his protracted move. Stephen Ireland is due to go the other way. And on another frantic day of transfer activity at the club Craig Bellamy stepped down a division to join hometown team Cardiff on a season-long loan.
The Wales striker took the decision after being told he would not be included in Mancini's 25-man Premier League club. Bellamy and Ireland may not be the last two out of the revolving door that is Eastlands as goalkeeper Shay Given - unhappy at losing his place to Joe Hart - could also be leaving. Mancini said: "I hope he (Given) will stay with us because we are in four competitions. But I respect his wishes if he wants to leave."
Balotelli insisted City were always top of his wish-list. He said: "I am happy to be here at Manchester City because of the manager) and the environment. I was sorry to leave my family and friends behind in Italy but not for professional reasons.
"I decided I wanted to leave Inter after the Champions League tie against Barcelona. Every day the papers were full of stories and it became very difficult to live in Milan. That's when I told my agent I wanted to leave and find me another club. I had no real problems with my team-mates but there were outside influences that persuaded me to leave."