David Beckham offers backing to Mario Balotelli
David Beckham has stuck up for Mario Balotelli in the ongoing row over his ill-advised back heel in Manchester City's friendly in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Blues boss Roberto Mancini immediately replaced the 20-year-old, so unimpressed was he by Balotelli's conduct, leading to a touchline row that heightened fears about a lack of discipline in the City camp.
However, Beckham, whilst reminding Balotelli of his status within the game, did feel there was a legitimate excuse.
"I have watched it back a few times and from his mannerisms I believe he thought he was offside," said the former England skipper.
"Mario has been a great player for quite a few years and he is still very young. He will continue to get better I am sure.
"But it doesn't matter whether you think it was offside or not. There are a lot of young kids watching these teams and great players who come out here.
"You have to be professional and score the goal."
Beckham will bring his own brand of professionalism to the Red Bull Arena tomorrow evening when he appears for the MLS All-Stars in their high-profile encounter with Manchester United.
The 36-year-old will be joined by another former Premier League great in Thierry Henry, who got a playful ear bashing from his new team-mate when he agreed to follow Beckham's lead and carry out an interview with United's in-house station MUTV.
Not that he is going to be too bothered by angry Arsenal fans for a while as, unlike Beckham who had two short stints with AC Milan during the MLS shutdown in an attempt to maintain his England place, the France striker has no intention of returning.
"Nope," said Henry, when asked whether he would contemplate returning to Europe as a player. "I am happy here.
"I am done with Europe. I was fortunate enough to win everything at club level and now I am happy where I am.
"I am trying to help my team win something, which is very difficult. I respect what David has done but right now, for me, no."
MLS coach Hans Bakke has already been dealt a blow with the loss of the USA's most high-profile player after Landon Donovan was forced to pull out with a calf injury.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal vs Tottenham player ratings: Mesut Ozil? Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain? Nacer Chadli? Who was the star man at the Emirates?
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Manchester United risk Uefa row over plan to play lucrative midweek friendlies
Cristiano Ronaldo banner: This is how Real Madrid striker reacted to the stunt by Manchester United fans
Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United: 'Come home' banner flown over Real Madrid match
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so