Kidd: Balotelli needs time to settle
Brian Kidd has pleaded for understanding as Mario Balotelli tries to combat the destructive power of homesickness. In the way of his hat-trick against Aston Villa on Tuesday, the Manchester City striker attempted to play down claims that he is unhappy in the north-west and wants to return to Italy.
Yet manager Roberto Mancini acknowledged the 20-year-old does miss his home comforts in Milan, which presumably explains Balotelli's frequent return journeys, and speculation linking him with a transfer to AC Milan, who finally look ready to challenge for the Serie A title.
After scoring eight times in 11 appearances for the Eastlands outfit, it is hardly a surprise to discover City are not eager for Balotelli to go anywhere, even if his failure to celebrate goals is driving Mancini to distraction. Assistant-manager Kidd feels there has to be some recognition of Balotelli's plight. A multi-million pound footballer he may be, but Balotelli is also human.
"There has to be an empathy towards players," said Kidd. "When they do feel this homesickness you don't brow beat them all the time. The players have been very good with Mario too. There is an understanding there. Everyone tends to look at the materialistic side of things but it is never easy."
Contrary to Balotelli's image, which paints the picture of a lazy, disaffected young man, Kidd reports a striker who is eager for work and popular in the dressing room. "Mario is working hard in training and all the lads were genuinely pleased for him when he got his hat-trick," said Kidd.
Whether Balotelli would be too impressed if Mancini told him his services were not required against Blackpool tomorrow is another matter. However, with Carlos Tevez amongst those who are set to return, room must be found somehow and, according to Mancini, another potential sacrifice, James Milner, was outstanding.
Dzeko deal still possible
These are the problems Mancini must handle without too much rancour if City are to maintain their status as title contenders, and the work will only get harder when Edin Dzeko completes his big-money move from Wolfsburg.
That deal has inched a little closer following confirmation that the Bundesliga strugglers are on the brink of sealing a deal with Dynamo Moscow for Germany striker Kevin Kuranyi. All should become clearer once the weekend is out of the way and the transfer window opens up properly.
By that time City could be top as a Manchester United failure to win at West Brom tomorrow will open the door for Mancini's men to leapfrog them by beating Blackpool. Not that Kidd is taking anything for granted against a side that were expected to disappear straight back into the Championship with barely a ripple but currently lead Liverpool and sit comfortably in mid-table.
"Everybody wrote them off but Ian Holloway obviously told his team to express themselves and they have been tremendous," said Kidd. "They gave us a severe examination at Bloomfield Road where we managed to win, but that was early in the season and since then they have just gone from strength to strength.
"They only had about nine players at the start of the season so the judgement of staff has obviously been very good. If Ian keeps the them in the league he has to be manager of the season, there is no doubt about it."