English Premiership

Balotelli 'on borrowed time'

2012-04-09 01:28
Mario Balotelli (File)

Manchester - Mario Balotelli's Manchester City future was in the balance after manager Roberto Mancini admitted his patience with the striker was wearing thin.

Balotelli was sent off for the third time this season in the 89th minute of City's 1-0 defeat at Arsenal on Sunday that left them eight points behind leaders Manchester United with six games left and hopes of a first English title in 44 years all but extinguished.

The Italy forward was fortunate to avoid being dismissed for a 20th minute challenge on Alex Song that went apparently unseen by referee Martin Atkinson but could be subject to further review by the Football Association, raising the possibility of Balotelli being suspended for City's remaining fixtures.

Mancini, who refused to concede the title to United, has repeatedly backed Balotelli, despite the player attracting controversy on and off the pitch.

But after Sunday's match he insisted his compatriot must change his ways while admitting Balotelli, who was red-carded for a foul on Bacary Sagna, could be sold come the end of this season.

"We have six games and he will not play in the next six games," Mancini said of Balotelli, although a City official said that was because he expected the FA to take severe disciplinary action against the 21-year-old, who is facing a minimum three-game ban.

"But I love him as a guy, I love him as a player, because I know him. He's not a bad guy. He's a fantastic player.

"But, at this moment, I'm very sorry because he continues to lose his talent, his quality.

"I hope, for him, that he can understand that he's in a bad way for his future, and he can change his behaviour in the future."

Asked if Balotelli would be sold, Mancini added: "Probably -- but I don't know. It depends, because Balotelli is a fantastic player.

"Every time we risk one sent off, like today (Sunday). But he can score also in the last minute.

"It's clear he's created big problems, but he's scored important goals. He's made mistakes, he's young, he doesn't understand it here (England)."

"He needs to change his behaviour if he wants to improve his life. I've seen players finish in two or three years with huge talent. He needs to change."

Mancini's own position will now be examined, but the manager insisted he should be given more time by City's wealthy United Arab Emirates based-owner Sheikh Mansour.

"Sure, 100 percent," he said when asked if he was the right man for the job.

"When I arrived, City were seventh or eighth. After six months, we were fighting for the Champions League and lost to Tottenham one game from the end.

"Second year, we were second and won the FA Cup. Today (Sunday), we have 15 points more than last year.

"When you start a project it's important you improve. You work hard. This is a difficult situation because we thought we could win the title. We were there for 28 games. But we need to improve. We need more experience and to change something. We've only worked here for two years."

Mikel Arteta's 87th minute goal moved Arsenal two points clear of north London rivals Tottenham in the race for third place and qualification for the Champions League proper.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger warned there could be no drop in standards when his team faced relegation-threatened Wolves on Wednesday.

"We know it will be a different game. Today was a game with a lot of hype and focus. They were going for the championship, we were going for a Champions League place.

"Now we'll be fighting with a team trying not to go down, and they'll be fighting to survive."

The Frenchman added: "We have taken 24 points from 27 and the points we've got, many of them, have been deserved. We have improved as a team, 100 percent, for sure.

"Unfortunately, we started from too deep (to win the title).

"We had a blip in January that cost us severely. We are 10 points from City today so, even starting where we started, if we'd not lost our games in January, we'd be there."

NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 

Your Winter Body Weight Workout

Cold weather does not mean you have to slack off on your workouts, here are some tips to stay fit in the winter.

 
 

Outdoor

The perks of power walking
Best ‘glamping' spots in the Western Cape
6 hiking routes you have to try
South African woman learns to surf at age 70
Fixtures
07 May 2016
Norwich City v Manchester United, Carrow Road 13:45
West Ham United v Swansea City, Boleyn Ground 16:00
Crystal Palace v Stoke City, Selhurst Park 16:00
Sunderland v Chelsea, Stadium of Light 16:00
Aston Villa v Newcastle United, Villa Park 16:00
Bournemouth v West Bromwich Albion, Vitality Stadium 16:00
Leicester City v Everton, King Power Stadium 18:30
08 May 2016
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton, White Hart Lane 14:30
Liverpool v Watford, Anfield 17:00
Manchester City v Arsenal, Etihad Stadium 17:00
10 May 2016
West Ham United v Manchester United, Boleyn Ground 20:45
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who was the best summer signing in the EPL?

 
 
/Sport
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

SuperBru Super Rugby challenge

Enter and challenge Sport24's staff!

Featured

As the Absa Premiership nears the Christmas break, a little over half the season remains. Who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Which teams will be relegated? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.