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Jamie Redknapp: Mario Balotelli is like a young Eric Cantona

29 Dec 2010 08:25:58

Jamie Redknapp: Mario Balotelli is like a young Eric Cantona

Mighty MarioBreaking news... we actually saw a smile from Mario Balotelli! The kid has looked as if he is being forced to play against his will. But that is eight goals in eight starts after his hat-trick against Aston Villa. He is a fascinating player, a bit like a young Nicolas Anelka or Eric Cantona with his swagger and sulks. He's a new enigma... and you just cannot take your eyes off him. A rare smile: Mario Balotelli celebrates his hat-trick The new Chelsea?Roberto Mancini 's City remind me of the early Chelsea under Jose Mourinho. They are hard to break down, have a lot of power and strength and are very difficult to beat physically. They also have a depth of quality in their squad, as they proved on Tuesday. They can control a game and then, at the top end, they have the firepower to win games. Chris of lifeDefender Chris Baird came into the Fulham team on Tuesday and scored two goals that could be crucial to Mark Hughes and his chances of survival. It was an inspired choice. I played with Chris at Southampton and he is a lovely striker of the ball. He is also a good professional, the sort of lad who will never give a manager any trouble. And he has certainly done his best to get Mark out of it. Crucial: Chris Baird scores his second Fulham goal In need of a leaderAston Villa need leaders, but the manager seems to have alienated experienced players. The supporters will be asking: 'Where are people who worked so well for Martin O'Neill?' Richard Dunne comes to mind. It is ok having good kids, but that can be an excuse when you are losing games. It seems that not too many are pulling in Gerard Houllier's direction. They were smashed at City. Cash in on Parker?Class act: Scott Parker (left) in action against Everton Do West Ham keep Scott Parker or cash in now for £8m and use the money to improve their squad? He was their one true class act against Everton again. He has energy, enthusiasm and quality. He plays every game for West Ham like it is his last. It's a big dilemma for the board. You can see why half a dozen Barclays Premier League teams would buy him. He is a dying breed. Olly'sawesomeSorry if you are bored with me talking up Ian Holloway and the open, attractive football his Blackpool team are playing. I went into the Sky studios to watch all the live feeds and Blackpool were battered by Sunderland, but they still won. More reasons for 'Olly' to be happy. And the clean sheet will have made his day. Tight at the topFive teams going for four places at the top. Sir Alex Ferguson's United, plus City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea. Can you imagine the consequences of Chelsea failing to finish in one of those places? It would be catastrophic for the club financially and would impact on them attracting fresh blood. Bolton at home on Wednesday night has become ahuge game, followed by Aston Villa at the Bridge. You have to fancy them to put it right. Six points will ease their fears.  Miserable Mario bags a hat-trick but insists: I'm not homesickChris of life for under-fire Cottagers boss Hughes  Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Ian Holloway, Mark Hughes, Roberto Mancini, Richard Dunne, Nicolas Anelka


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