Mancini wants Balotelli to kick on
Roberto Mancini believes Mario Balotelli has all the attributes required to become one of the world's top strikers - if he can just keep his mind focused on the job.
The Manchester City striker has only been in England for just over a year, yet he has already managed to get himself involved in more scrapes than most players endure in an entire career. It has led to a perception of Balotelli being hard to handle as well as talented, an assessment James Milner thinks is "pretty accurate".
"With Mario it is never easy," laughed Mancini. "But we keep in our mind that Mario is young, and young guys can have different behaviour. I know him very well. I know he is a fantastic guy."
He added: "I want him to work well all the time, in every training session and every match because this year he could be an important player for us.
"He has everything. He has the technical ability. He is strong. He shoots very well. He can score with his head.
"He needs time but he can become one of the top players."
Balotelli's pivotal contribution to the 2-0 victory over Everton on Saturday that was sealed by fellow substitute Milner in the final minute justified Mancini's decision to introduce the Italian ahead of Carlos Tevez, who remained on the bench throughout.
It was also testament to the less obvious battling qualities of a City team who were forced to overcome some stoic Everton defending, including David Moyes' decision to deploy Jack Rodwell in a man-to-man marking role on David Silva.
"In Italy we marked like this 20 years ago," said Mancini.
"When we met a team who had an important player who could change a match, this was be normal. And David Silva is an important player."