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Tuesday Team Talk: Manchester bad boys need to let their football do the talking

By Andrew Greaves

There is not a day goes by that Manchester City’s enigmatic striker Mario Balotelli doesn’t hit the headlines.

On and off the pitch the lad is fantastic entertainment but there is a streak to him that is dangerous.

That side of him reared its ugly head in Sunday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur when he appeared to stamp on the head of Scott Parker.

The Italian has now been charged with violent conduct by the Football Association and faces a four match ban.

But the issue here for City boss Roberto Mancini is not so much what he will do without his hot-headed striker – Balotelli came on as a sub at the Etihad on Sunday and the Blues do have other striking options – but more of how to tackle his countryman’s increasingly erratic behaviour.

Members of the footballing press corps are starting to make comparisons between Balotelli and another of the city’s great adopted sons, Eric Cantona.

Cantona was certainly no saint and Balotelli’s (alleged) stamp under the glare of the TV cameras was no worse than some of the antics King Eric got up to during his time at Old Trafford.

But in terms of keeping a destructive streak under control, Balotelli – as talented as he undoubtedly is – has a long way to go before he can even be considered in the same breath as Cantona.

After his lengthy suspension for his infamous Kung Fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan, Cantona let his football do the talking.

His return to the United side helped Sir Alex Ferguson’s men strengthen their grip on English football and cemented his place amongst the Premier League’s all-time greats.

Balotelli will be best advised by his manager to do the same after his enforced absence.

Another young player who needs to get himself some better advice is United’s Ravel Morrison.

The 18-year-old recently took to Twitter to hit out at Ferguson’s suggestion that he was on his way out of Old Trafford for making excessive wage demands.

Has he learned nothing from the former stars that have been cast into the footballing wilderness for daring to question Sir Alex’s judgement?

Morrison is highly rated at United but the coaches there, it seems, have finally run out of patience with him.

With a charge sheet that would make Johnny Cash wince and a reputation for using social networking sites to air his dirty laundry – including a bizarre tweet a fortnight ago asking teammate Rio Ferdinand to vouch for the fact that he hadn’t stolen his watch – it is not difficult to see why.

Newcastle United have already failed with a £500,000 bid to  secure Morrison’s signature but, with a host of other clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea and Italian giants Roma reportedly keeping tabs on him, it is fair to say his future likes aware from his home city.

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