Balotelli may pay a heavy price for red-card shame
Published 19/03/2011 | 05:00
Mario Balotelli faces being dropped from Manchester City's team for tomorrow's clash with Chelsea, despite apologising last night for the red card against Dynamo Kiev branded as 'stupid' by manager Roberto Mancini.
Balotelli, who will serve his suspension in Europe next season following a chest-high challenge on Kiev's Goran Popov, voluntarily made the apology through City's website last night.
But after being condemned by Mancini and team-mate Nigel de Jong, Balotelli's regret may yet not be enough to spare him from the axe at Stamford Bridge.
Balotelli said: "It was not my intention to hurt anyone. I want to express my sincere apologies to Popov. I was trying my best for the team as I always do. The ball was in the air and I went for it with my foot high. I never tried to make contact with Popov and I certainly didn't want to hurt him. In retrospect, however, the tackle was poor and I'm very sorry to my team-mates that I got sent off so early in such an important game.
"I should have shown more consideration, but I was so involved in the game. It was not a good way to repay the manager who has shown so much faith in me or the owners and fans who have made me so welcome since I arrived."
With Balotelli's dismissal, his second in 20 games for City, Mancini suggested he is losing faith in the 20-year-old's temperament.
"I don't know if I could rely on him for a game like this (Chelsea)," Mancini said. "Mario is young, but he needs to think about what he wants to do. I am angry with him, definitely. I hope every day he will change his behaviour. I can't understand his bad behaviour. Sometimes I can, but other times I can't. I hope he can change."
Midfielder De Jong, embroiled in controversy for his own reckless challenges in recent months, added: "Mario is a talented boy, but I've told him he's got to learn from his mistakes. He is disadvantaging his own team by doing these kinds of things.
"We're going to sit with him and he's going to realise that he's got to change the way that he plays because he's always going to be a marked man."
City will test David Silva's ankle injury before the game, but Mancini is without defender Pablo Zabaleta, who has returned to Argentina on compassionate leave with his father critically ill following a car accident.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti claims City will be weakened if Mancini carries out his threat to drop Balotelli tomorrow.
Ancelotti said: "I cannot judge him (Balotelli) as a person. I do not know him. He had a lot of problems with his behaviour on the pitch, also in Italy, but I'm not able to judge him.
"He's one of the best young players in Italy and Italian football needs this kind of quality. Everyone in Italy hopes he will improve his behaviour on the pitch he's a fantastic player so I'd prefer him to stay out (of Sunday's game).
"I have to judge this on him technically. Technically, he's one of the best players out there. Also (Carlos) Tevez. If they can go on holiday for two or three days, that would be good for us." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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