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Mancini defends bad-boy Balotelli

SoccerNews in English Premier League 1 Apr 2011

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Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini does not regret bringing striker Mario Balotelli to England despite his recent bad behaviour.

The Italy forward was recently left out by his national team after reportedly throwing a dart at a City youth team player.

This was far from Balotelli’s first offence as the 23-million-pound man has also received two red cards this season – one as City crashed out of the UEFA Europa League.

Balotelli was also left out by Mancini for City’s last game but the manager has drawn a line under the incident ahead of Monday’s game with Sunderland.

“He lost the national team for two games, which is not a good thing for a young player,” Mancini said.

“I think his behaviour will be better in the future. I do not regret bringing him here, Mario is a fantastic player.”

“At the moment everything Mario does will be massive. If Mario went to a restaurant and spoke with a woman, people would say he spoke to five.”

“He played 15 games at the start of the season and scored 10 goals. In the last two months he has shown he wants to change his behaviour.”

Inconsistent form has seen City fall away slightly after leading the pack but Mancini said they still have high aspirations.

“We want to try to get back to the top of the table,” he said.

“We have the same target as we did at the start of the season – to qualify for next season’s Champions League and get to a cup final.”

“I think we have a chance.”

And Mancini needed no prompting to recognise the strength of the Sunderland side his charges will come up against.

“Sunderland are a good team, they play nice football and have a good manager,” Mancini said.

“Steve Bruce knows the Premier League well and Asamoah Gyan is a fantastic player, as is Danny Welbeck.”

Manchester City will be without goalkeeper Shay Given (shoulder) and defenders Jerome Boateng (knee) and Micah Richards (hamstring) for the clash.

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