Mancini right to get tough with Mario

25 July 2011 04:02
TEAMtalk's Ian Watson believes Roberto Mancini was absolutely right to haul Mario Balotelli off the pitch after his attempted backheel in LA.

Manchester City have a smart manager in charge of a squad almost unrivalled for strength in depth and they are armed with limitless funds to add to it. The only doubt that currently hangs over Eastlands ahead of the coming Premier League season is whether the dressing room has within it the winning mentality required to mount a serious title challenge. And for that reason, Roberto Mancini was absolutely right to sit Mario Balotelli's backside back on the bench in LA on Sunday.

Balotelli was accused of showing City's hosts disrespect by attempting to backheel past the Galaxy goalkeeper as only Josh Saunders stood between City and a two-goal lead in a friendly they would eventually go on to draw. But with such a poorly-timed and terribly-executed show of over-confidence, Mancini will care only about the disrespect Balotelli displayed towards his own manager and team-mates.

After making an example of Balotelli, Mancini has been accused of lacking the man-management skills needed to preside over a title-winning team. But surely the opposite is true? Balotelli caused more trouble for Mancini than opposition defences in his first campaign in the Premier League, and ahead of the striker's sophomore season in England, Mancini felt a message had to be sent: Idiocy will no longer be tolerated.

Mancini knows how close he could be to becoming only the sixth manager to win a Premier League title. The first, Sir Alex Ferguson, has won his many titles by not only building squad after squad filled with talent - something Mancini has at his disposal - but by instilling a winning mentality throughout the club. Mancini knows that this is his most-pressing concern ahead of the new campaign.

To tolerate or even laugh off Balotelli's buffoonery on Sunday would send out entirely the wrong message to his players.

Ask yourself this: How would Ferguson react if one of his players tried something similar? Or Jose Mourinho? The answer is, it wouldn't happen.

United and Real players - and those of Chelsea under Mourinho's leadership - understand what is expected of them by the serial-winners in the dug outs. Winning matters. Whether it be a friendly or a cup final, win first and entertain second. If Balotelli and his City team-mates were not aware of that before Sunday, they certainly are now.

Mancini has been labelled a killjoy, but the 20-year-old Italian was given more passes by his manager than any less-talented team-mate is likely to have received last season. Judging by Sunday night's behaviour, the manager's arm-around-the-shoulder approach hasn't worked with his tempestuous talent so the time had come, ahead of the new season, for a short, sharp shock.

Self-confidence is a compulsory trait for any player with ambitions of being the best. But ego and achievement has to be proportionate to one another. To bring Balotelli's opinion of himself down an notch or two can surely be no bad thing if he genuinely wants to be as great as he clearly believes he can be.

To see how Balotelli reacts now will be fascinating. Either he'll get on with justifying his ego and potential, or he will sulk. Either way, Mancini will have the answer as to whether his countryman is worth keeping in a squad that stands a real chance of achieving greatness over the coming 10 months.

Source: Team_Talk