Mancini admits struggling to solve a problem like Mario
Published 22:28 30/03/12 By David McDonnell
Roberto Mancini admits he cannot trust Mario Balotelli as the Manchester City boss faces up to a striker crisis.
Top scorer Sergio Aguero is out of today’s clash with Sunderland after suffering an Achilles injury while playing with his young son Benjamin.
Aguero, with 28 goals this season, could also miss next weekend’s encounter with Arsenal, a major blow to City’s title hopes.
Mancini has £120million worth of talent at his disposal in Aguero, Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez. But with Aguero sidelined, Balotelli out of favour, Dzeko off form and Tevez not yet fully fit, Mancini has problems.
Balotelli was hauled off at half-time in City’s 2-1 win over Chelsea, with Mancini admitting he was not happy with his form.
Dzeko has only scored twice in his last 17 games, while Tevez is not match-fit having gone AWOL in Argentina for three months.
And the City boss says he cannot rely on Balotelli, with City needing a win to maintain their pursuit of leaders Manchester United.
“I don’t trust Mario, but he is like this,” said Mancini. “I don’t think anyone can trust Mario. But he is a top player and he can do everything.
“He could easily score two goals tomorrow or in the next game at Arsenal. But we can’t trust him.
“He is a top player, he can do everything in a game. He can score three goals, but he can also take a red card.
“I was disappointed with his performance against Chelsea, but not against Stoke.”
Mancini had a slanging match with Balotelli in training this week, after the striker took advantage of two days off to fly to his native Milan.
Balotelli turned up at an Inter press conference and it was clear Mancini was not impressed with his madcap striker’s latest stunt.
“I spoke with him during training because I explained some situation on the pitch, this is all,” said Mancini.
“But I can’t take him and put him in his house for two days! Probably the moment will arrive when he understands what he should do when he has two days off. I hope for him he grows out of it because he needs to improve in this.
“It’s his job, he needs to work, he needs to rest, but he is young. I just hope he can score five or six important goals in the last eight games.”
Mancini refused to disclose how Aguero suffered the injury that will keep him out today and possibly next weekend’s trip to Arsenal.
When Aguero missed last week’s draw at Stoke, Blues assistant boss David Platt dismissed it as a minor problem the club’s £38m record signing had suffered in training the day before.
Now Mancini has revealed the problem to be more serious and certainly more complicated.
The City boss could not hide his dismay at the potential impact the loss of Aguero could have on their title chances.
“Aguero’s is a stupid injury,” said Mancini.
“I am really disappointed for what has happened with Aguero’s injury.
“It’s impossible that we can lose a player to a stupid situation like this.”
City skipper Vincent Kompany is fit again but his central defensive partner Joleon Lescott remains out.