Roberto Mancini tells Mario Balotelli to live up to his hype
Manchester City manager calls on Italian striker to back up confident claims with performances on the pitch
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has told striker Mario Balotelli that it is now time for him back up his confidence in his own ability by proving himself on the pitch.
The 20-year-old Italy international caused another stir last week when he claimed not to have heard of Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, the runner-up to the Golden Boy trophy Balotelli had just won. He then insisted that of all the previous winners of the young European player of the year award, only Lionel Messi had been a “little stronger” than him at the time.
Mancini, whose side moved up to second in the Premier League table with a 3-1 win at Newcastle on Boxing Day, has advised £24m Balotelli that he must now begin to produce consistent performances to back up his claims.
“He must improve in this situation,” said Mancini. “You need to smile to play football; that is the best thing you can do.
“It is good when a player has confidence in himself. Mario Balotelli has everything you need to be one of the best players in the world. But he must improve and he must show it. Only if you play well in every game can you say these things. It depends on him.
“The Premier League is so different from the Italian league. Mario must understand. If he thinks what he says, he must show it in every game.
“But he’s happy. He is in a fantastic team playing in probably the best league in the world. He is special because he has great attributes to play football but you have to put with that your heart, your strength on the pitch.
“If not, I know plenty of players, talented like Mario, who didn’t play football for a top team. He has to prove he has the character to play at the top level.”