Posted on Apr 06
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini admits he would have punched controversial striker Mario Balotelli if he was still a player.
Mancini has grown increasingly frustrated with Balotelli's bizarre antics on and off the pitch since signing the Italian from Inter Milan and he believes it shouldn't be surprising that some of City's players feel the same about such a polarising personality.
Balotelli was reportedly involved in a dressing room row with Yaya Toure during last weekend's 3-3 draw against Sunderland and also argued with Aleksandar Kolarov over who should take a free-kick in the same game.
Mancini concedes that, during his playing days, he would have reacted just as angrily as City midfielder Toure.
"I can understand it. I told him, 'If you played with me, 10 years ago, I give to you every day one punch in your head!'" Mancini said.
"I think in every big game he played very well. I think his problem is his concentration but I work with him every day.
"I speak with him - not every day because if not I need a psychologist - but every two days I speak with him. He doesn't lose his quality.
"Mario, as a player, can be one of the top in Europe. I don't want him to lose his talent."
Balotelli was in the news again this week after an incident in Manchester city centre in which his car was involved in a collision with another vehicle.
The 21-year-old, who drives a Bentley, was not understood to have been hurt, but police confirmed a passenger from one of the vehicles was taken to hospital as a precaution.
That was merely the latest incident in an eventful past fortnight for Balotelli, which began with an unexpected appearance at an Inter Milan press conference to unveil the club's new manager.
Balotelli was also in trouble earlier this season after he and some friends set off fireworks in his bathroom, causing severe damage to the property.
But, despite his frustration at Balotelli, Mancini refuses to completely condemn his player.
"Every time Mario does something, (it) is like a war," he said.
"There are other people on and off the pitch that do worse than Mario and no-one says anything because maybe they play for an important team or are not like Mario."