Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini declared last night that the "stupid things" Mario Balotelli did on the pitch were making life difficult for his team, after Balotelli's first-half dismissal contributed to the club's dismal exit from the Europa League.
A night that began with Balotelli struggling to work out how to put on a training bib, throwing it away and being helped by a City trainer, ended with him justifiably earning the second dismissal of his City career for a tackle on a Dynamo Kiev player which had hallmarks of Nigel de Jong's studs-up lunge at Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final.
Mancini's continued frustrations with a player who has also been booked nine times in 19 games were barely disguised after the 2-1 aggregate defeat. "This is Mario's problem," the manager said. "He can be a fantastic player but he does stupid things like tonight, it's difficult for me, difficult for him, difficult for the team."
Mancini is considering dropping Balotelli from the City side to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and the striker's rage appeared to be manifest when, according to unconfirmed reports, he was confronted by Kiev fans as he drove away from the stadium last night and climbed from his car to remonstrate with them.
Asked whether he felt frustrated with Balotelli, Mancini said: "What do you think? I didn't see the foul but I want to see it in the dressing room. I am disappointed because I think in these games, which are very difficult, you can't take a stupid red card. With 10 players it was very difficult. Two-nil and 11 against 10 is hard."
Mancini said he felt Kiev had indulged in gamesmanship. "Yes, definitely – every time diving and wasting time but that's it," he said. "I'm happy [because] I think that also with 10 players we could have scored more goals. We played well and didn't concede any chances."
The Kiev manager, Yuri Semin, rejected the accusation of gamesmanship. "I think it's part of football. There were quite serious pressures. It was a tough game – that's why there quite a few yellow cards." He declined to comment on Balotelli's dire tackle on Goran Popov.
City's exit from Europe means that their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United will take place on Saturday 16 April, though a wrangle may now ensue between the Metropolitan and Greater Manchester Police forces, who want a lunchtime scheduling to limit fans' alcohol intake, and ITV, which will want the more lucrative teatime TV slot.
It was a disappointing night all round for British teams in the Europa League last night, with Liverpool and Rangers also being eliminated. Liverpool failed to find a goal at Anfield to overturn Braga's 1-0 win from the first leg and Rangers lost 1-0 to PSV Eindhoven at Ibrox.Reuse content