Stub it out, Mario! Mancini begs Balotelli to quit his five-a-day smoking habit
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has revealed that controversial striker Mario Balotelli is refusing to give up a smoking habit thought to involve up to two packets of cigarettes a week.
Balotelli has been photographed with a cigarette in his hand and seen smoking when out with friends in Manchester.
What a drag: Balotelli puffs away on a cigarette
The Italian is not the first footballer to use cigarettes but last night Mancini admitted he has tried – and failed – to persuade the 21-year-old to give up.
The City boss said: ‘Yeah, yeah, I know this. I know that he smokes. For me, it’s not OK but I’m not his father or his mother.
‘If he was my son I would give him a kick on the a** but he is not my son! I told him that it is better you don’t smoke. I am against cigarettes always. For this reason my son doesn’t smoke. There are players who smoke in Italy and I think also here. I don’t think he smokes a lot – five or six a day. But I told him not to.’
Mancini was all smiles as he discussed his club’s most newsworthy player on Friday and clearly doesn’t feel Balotelli’s habit is having an impact on his performances on the field.
Up in smoke: Mancini wants Balotelli to kick the habit
Holland legend Johan Cruyff, former Nottingham Forest winger John Robertson and one-time Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli all smoked regularly during hugely successful playing careers, while England striker Wayne Rooney has also been photographed with cigarettes, as has Chelsea’s Ashley Cole.
The development is another sign of Balotelli’s headstrong character, though, and it would appear that he is partial to lighting up on more than just special occasions.
Balotelli is expected to be in the City squad to face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, a game City feel they must win if they are not to be left behind by United’s resurgence.
No stranger to controversy: Balotelli has a habit of making the back pages
City will be knocked off the top of the Barclays Premier League table if United beat bottom club Blackburn at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.
Mancini said: ‘Up until now we got many, many points. It is difficult to keep that up. Until now us, United and Tottenham have had a fantastic season but if we want to win this title we will have to fight every game because United are very strong.
‘They are used to being at the top for a long time. But I don’t think for us it makes any difference whether we are on the top or behind by one point. I think we scored 53 goals in 18 games and we didn’t score any goals against West Bromwich last week. There will be some moments when we don’t score any goals. United won’t score five goals every game like they have the last two or three weeks, either. This is normal.
Firing blanks: City failed to score against West Brom
‘It’s important that we’ve scored 53 goals so far and we will score many more in the next 20 games of this championship.
‘United are strong. I never thought that this championship was finished because last year Chelsea had seven points more than United and didn’t win.
‘I think the situation can change in December and January but it is important to be on top at the end.’