Premier League - Papers: Mancini ‘would punch’ Mario, Inter keen

Fri, 06 Apr 08:51:00 2012

Read today’s papers and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Good Friday had been replaced by Mario Balotelli day.

2011-12 Premier League Manchester City Mario Balotelli, Roberto Mancini - 0

The Italian striker crops up across the back pages, and even on some of the front pages.

The Times lead with quotes that Balotelli’s manager at Manchester City Roberto Mancini would have found it exasperating to be the striker’s team-mate.

“If you played with me 10 years ago,” Mancini said he told his young charge, “I give to you every day maybe one punch in your head!” He added: “But no I understand this, his team-mates’ [frustrations].”

Those frustrations came to a head in the extraordinary 3-3 draw last weekend at home to Sunderland, during which Balotelli scored twice for City but also sparked an argument with his team-mate Aleksandar Kolarov over who was to take a free kick and eventually had to be led away by his captain Vincent Kompany.

Mancini seems keen to keep the 21-year-old at the club, but if Balotelli wants to move on, Internazionale could offer him an escape route, say the Daily Mail.

The striker joined City from Inter back in the summer of 2010 for a fee of around £26m, but now that Andrea Stramaccioni has been promoted from youth team coach, where he once worked with Balotelli, to manager, interest could be rekindled.

Balotelli and Stramaccioni have already met since he took the job – as the striker infamously gatecrashed his first press conference in charge.

But with lurid revelations appearing on the front pages about Balotelli’s personal life, there appears to be little let-up in the Mario story.

Balotelli interrupts press conference

Elsewhere on the back pages, the Daily Mail reports that the FA are finally ready to move for a new England manager and will start making formal approaches within the next two weeks.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is ‘understood to be at the top of their list’, the paper says, but they add that Roy Hodgson is also likely to be approached.

Whoever gets the job, they cannot expect to be offered previous incumbent Fabio Capello’s £6m wages.

In transfer news, there’s a few Good Friday titbits with the end of the season drawing closer.

The Sun suggest that in-form Sunderland striker Nicklas Bendtner is going to keep his options open on his future and keep manager Martin O’Neill waiting until after Euro 2012.

Bendtner is quoted as saying he is happy in footballing terms up north, but missing London life. The Dane is on loan at the Stadium of Light from Arsenal, but could leave the Emirates for as little as £4m in the summer.

One man who wants to make a loan move permanent is West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster, who is still contracted to Birmingham. The Mirror report that the Baggies are unlikely to get their way if Birmingham secure promotion back to the Premier League, in which case they’ll look to hold on to the former England keeper.

And Manchester United have been told to forget about making a move for Blackburn Rovers defender Grant Henley, who The Sun say impressed Sir Alex Ferguson in the 2-0 win for the Red Devils at Ewood Park.

Moving from Blackburn to Old Trafford is a well-established career path, but Rovers boss Steve Kean has told Sir Alex to cast any thoughts of signing the young Scot aside.

Kean said: “I hope Fergie’s not going to be putting a bid in. I said that to him.

“I told him leave it a bit longer because Grant is only just starting with us.”

When team-mates attack


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