Balotelli must learn to play with a smile, says Mancini

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The Independent Football

Roberto Mancini has prescribed different solutions for his two main strikers if they are to find the goals his Manchester City side are in desperate need of. Both Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli have appeared distracted recently, the former having submitted and retracted a transfer request, the latter more as a function of his natural demeanour. Regardless, the pair have scored just one goal in City's last four league games. While Mancini has said that his captain just needs to start scoring again, he has instructed Balotelli to just smile more.

A lack of goals continues to be Mancini's Achilles heel and this was further highlighted in the 2-1 defeat against Everton that saw the club miss out on holding top spot on Christmas Day for the first time in 81 years. Tevez, who already has scored 10 times, is doing his bit. Yet Balotelli has yet to match the high esteem he holds himself in.

Mancini takes his side to Newcastle on Boxing Day, realising his £24m signing must start to justify his own hype. "He must improve in this situation," said the Manchester City manager. "You need to smile to play football. That is the best thing you can do. It is good when a player has confidence in himself. Mario Balotelli has everything you need to be one of the best players in the world.

"But he must improve and he must show it. Only if you play well in every game can you say these things. If he thinks what he says he must show it in every game."

If trying to keep Balotelli's mouth closed was a big enough job, then Tevez has the chance to do his talking on the pitch. Asked whether he should follow Wayne Rooney's route and apologise to the club's supporters, Mancini said: "Maybe, I don't know. The fans still love him. But I think what is most important is that Carlos plays well, scores goals and the fans will love him."