Monday, December 17, 2012


Coach Roberto Mancini has been urged to leave Mario Balotelli out in the cold this Christmas as Manchester City prepare to face their errant Italian at a Premier League tribunal on Wednesday.

Balotelli was left at home by Mancini for the weekend trip to Newcastle with the City boss citing poor fitness. Now Balotelli will accuse the Premier League champions of unfairly fining him £340,000 for poor discipline at a tribunal this week.

Some senior players at the Etihad Stadium and indeed members of Mancini’s coaching staff are now so fed up with Balotelli and his distracting influence in the dressing room that they have told the City boss the squad would be better off without his young protégé.

The feeling is that Balotelli’s occasional moments of effectiveness on the field are now far outweighed by the circus that constantly surrounds him away from the pitch.
Senior figures now hope that Mancini leaves him out of the first team picture over Christmas – starting with Saturday’s home game with Reading - until he learns his lesson and sorts himself out.

Mario Balotelli and Manchester City face each other at a Premier League tribunal this week after the league champions tried to fine their errant centre forward £340,000 for his persistent poor discipline on the field.

Having been left out of the squad for Saturday’s trip to Newcastle, it has subsequently emerged that Balotelli has been at war with his club behind the scenes since the end of last season.

It is understood that the 22-year-old was charged by his club with misconduct and hit with a fine of two weeks’ wages last May after City got fed up with the amount of football Balotelli was missing due to his habit of picking up red and yellow cards.

Balotelli is fighting City's decision to fine him two weeks' wages for his poor disciplinary record last season.

The disciplinary process was initiated by senior executives at the Etihad Stadium after Balotelli was sent off in the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal last April.

It had the blessing of chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and manager Roberto Mancini.
Balotelli missed 11 games at home and in Europe through suspension last term — one fifth of all his club’s matches — and has so far picked up three yellow cards in all competitions during this campaign.

Balotelli refused to pay his fine, feeling he was being unfairly victimised by City, and appealed to a two-man internal commission at the Etihad Stadium.

That hearing, held three weeks ago, failed to exonerate him and the Italy international has now taken the case to an independent Premier League tribunal.

The striker is expected to appear in person, along with his Italian lawyer and a representative from the Professional Footballers' Association, while City will bring their legal team. 

City played well at Newcastle in winning 3-1 and were especially effective when the likes of Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and David Silva had the ball. Many at City have seen this as a sign that the team can cope perfectly well without Balotelli as they endeavour to catch leaders Manchester United.

In some people’s eyes, the final straw hasn’t come with news that Balotelli wants to fight his own club at a tribunal but rather with his performance against United at the Etihad Stadium eight days ago.

Mancini surprised everyone by choosing Balotelli ahead of Carlos Tevez and it is now understood that the 22-year-old was sent out with direct instructions to run straight at United’s veteran defender Rio Ferdinand whenever he had the ball.

Mancini felt that Ferdinand’s legs 'have gone' and that Balotelli could trouble him. Hardly at all in the game did Balotelli follow this instruction, though, something that led to his substitution five minutes in to the second half.

It is widely presumed that City will try to move Balotelli on in the January transfer window. 

This, however, is far from certain as Mancini continues to cling to his own belief that he can shape the former Inter player in to the finished article.
Mancini, though, is the only person at City who believes this to be the case.

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