Neville warns over winding up Balotelli
Published : 24 Jun 2012 09:48:38
Gary Neville has warned England's players they risk getting sent off themselves if they try to wind Mario Balotelli up.
The margins between success and failure when England take on Italy in their Euro 2012 quarter-final in Kiev are so fine that the loss of a player could tip the balance. So Balotelli's notoriously fragile temperament might be viewed as a legitimate target.
After all, Neville branded the Manchester City forward "a clown" following his ludicrous red card at Arsenal in April. However, he feels niggling Balotelli could prove devastatingly counter-productive, saying: "If you go into the game thinking 'I'll go and try to wind up Balotelli', you could get sent off yourself."
He added: "It's too big a game. Referees nowadays stamp on every little thing that happens - pulling shirts, standing on people's toes.
"Those days are gone. You are just going to get banned for two, three or four matches."
And England have struggled enough with discipline, specifically the defeats to Argentina in 1998 and Portugal eight years later that followed red cards for David Beckham and Wayne Rooney respectively, to cause themselves more problems.
"In past tournaments, when we have got a player sent off it has been a big problem," he said.
"We are concentrating on the way we keep our own composure and discipline and making sure we don't disappoint ourselves rather than what the other team will do.
"I've never gone into a game of football at any level when we've mentioned we will try to wind somebody up."