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Mario Balotelli, 22 touches, no goals and one big strop!
Published : 12 Dec 2010 01:02:45
Mario Balotelli flopped dramatically at Upton Park yesterday, provoking cries of 'What a waste of money' from the East End crowd. The temperamental Italian cost Manchester City £24million but he struggles to keep his cool when events turn against him. Against West Ham, he missed a simple early chance and was booked for dissent in the 62nd minute, prompting City manager Roberto Mancini to substitute the 20-year-old. Not so super Mario: Balotelli ignores Mancini after being substituted Once again it was plain to see why the high-flying Eastlands outfit have been christened 'The Fight Club' as Balotelli trudged off moodily. The Sicilian-born star of Ghanaian parentage ignored his manager as he marched straight down the tunnel. Mancini was no less conciliatory, probably having feared that Balotelli would risk another red card if he had been allowed to stay. Referee Phil Dowd had finally lost patience when Balotelli refused to come towards him, preferring instead to pull up the tights he was wearing to protect himself against the cold. But City coach Brian Kidd insisted that West Ham's fans had it wrong in their assessment of the controversial youngster. Kidd said: 'People shouldn't make judgments. 'You've just mentioned this "waste of money" chant, but we're delighted with him. 'The substitution was tactical because we wanted to get players down the flanks and that's what happened. 'It takes time in the Premier League. He is still a young player, a great kid and he is a big talent.' However, even AC Milan, who are keen on taking Balotelli to the San Siro at some stage, revealed last night that they are worried about his temperament. Although AC Milan's chief, Adriano Galliani, said last week that they would be interested in Balotelli in a few years' time, a highly-placed source at the Italian club expressed concerns about the player's current state of mind. The source said: 'We need a striker but Mario would not like to be a substitute to our main striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. You're booked: Balotelli gets a yellow card from referee Phil Dowd 'Also we think his wages would cost too much and it will probably be a couple of years before he is right for us.' Meanwhile, Balotelli continues to struggle to justify his fee in England despite City's impressive season so far. Only last week he was photographed clashing with team-mate Jerome Boateng during training. The volatile newcomer also openly criticises team-mates during matches, too, if he feels they are not dancing to his tune. There were no arguments with colleagues yesterday, but he cut a forlorn figure for much of the match. Although he has twice netted a brace of goals already this season and clearly has what it takes to find the net if he puts his mind to it, his inconsistency is the most worrying factor. Mancini had demanded that his side showed goal power in the absence of Carlos Tevez. Significantly, it was not Balotelli who took a leading role. West Ham 1 Man City 3: Mancini's men go joint top after Balotelli bust-upPlay like Carlos! Mancini tells Balotelli to prove Man City are no one-man teamMANCHESTER CITY FC