Mancini: Balotelli can become one of the top players
Roberto Mancini believes Mario Balotelli has all the attributes required to become one of the world's top strikers - if he can just keep his mind focused on the job. The Manchester City striker has only been in England for just over a year, yet he has already managed to get himself involved in more scrapes than most players endure in an entire career.
It has led to a perception of Balotelli being hard to handle as well as talented, an assessment James Milner thinks is "pretty accurate". However, since infuriating his manager with his showboating antics during a pre-season game with
As Mancini noted, yesterday he even managed a smile as he celebrated opening the scoring in a hard-fought 2-0 win against Everton at the Etihad Stadium.
Even though he misses Tuesday's trip to Bayern Munich, a legacy of the four-match ban he received for his dismissal in a UEFA Europa League tie with Dynamo Kiev in March, which Mancini branded "stupid", it seems Balotelli is now starting to concentrate on the fundamentals of his career.
"With Mario it is never easy," laughed Mancini. "But we keep in our mind that Mario is young, and young guys can have different behaviour. I know him very well. I know he is a fantastic guy.
"I want him to work well all the time, in every training session and every match because this year he could be an important player for us. He has everything. He has the technical ability. He is strong. He shoots very well. He can score with his head. He needs time but he can become one of the top players."
Balotelli's pivotal contribution to a victory that was sealed by fellow substitute Milner in the final minute justified Mancini's decision to introduce the Italian ahead of Carlos Tevez, who remained on the bench throughout.
For once, Manchester United did not eclipse City's result immediately afterwards, so now all that separates the two clubs is goal difference. The Manchester rivalry will be set aside this week though, as City head to Germany for a UEFA Champions League game that confirms their newly-found status; an English opponent against the four-times European Cup winners Bayern Munich.