Mancini escapes Uefa punishment after referee confrontation following Manchester City draw with Ajax

Roberto Mancini will avoid punishment from Uefa following his outburst at Danish referee Peter Rasmussen in the aftermath of Manchester City’s draw with Ajax on Tuesday.

The City boss was angry at the final whistle after his side were denied a penalty late on in their Champions League clash with the Dutch champions.
Earlier in the game the hosts had also had a Sergio Aguero goal disallowed after Aleksandar Kolarov had been ruled offside.

However, Uefa have confirmed that the Italian coach will not be facing any disciplinary action as the match officials did not mention the incident in their match report.

“Nothing was reported neither by the delegate nor by the referee,” a Uefa spokesperson told the Guardian.

“No disciplinary proceedings are opened.”

Mario Balotelli has also escaped punishment for his involvement in the closing minutes of the game, after the striker had to be held back by captain Vincent Kompany after also approaching the match official.

The decision may come as a surprise, particularly as Uefa handed Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger a fine and a ban following his comments about the referee’s performance during Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Barcelona in 2011.

Wenger also received further punishment for confronting referee Damir Skomina after last season’s Champions League defeat by AC Milan at Emirates Stadium.

Mancini: Balotelli must keep it simple to overcome goal drought

Roberto Mancini has instructed Mario Balotelli to “keep it simple” as he looks to overcome a run of 11 Premier League games without a goal.

The 21-year-old started for the Citizens against West Ham at the weekend but failed to find a breakthrough, eventually being substituted, to his apparent dislike.

Balotelli’s best chance came from an overhead kick and his manager has urged him to look for an easier way to goal, in order to regain his confidence.

“There is a problem with him not scoring,” Mancini admitted to the Manchester Evening News. “It’s probably because he tries too hard when he has a chance.

“Sometimes when you have a chance you don’t concentrate on scoring. When you get those chances, you can make mistakes.

“Sometimes Mario needs to try to do the easy thing.

“He sometimes wants to score an incredible goal, but when you don’t score for a long time you need to keep it simple, stay on the goalkeeper often and not stay too far out, as he did at West Ham.

“He put on a good performance but from what we created on Saturday we should score – and that goes for Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero, for everyone.”

Saturday’s goalless draw with West Ham was the first time City had failed to find the net since April but Mancini was satisfied with his side’s overall showing.

“It was a good performance but we were missing a goal,” Mancini said. “We had four or five incredible chances and when you get those kind of chances, you need to score.

“We are not scoring enough at the moment. With Chelsea drawing, it was a good opportunity to go top.”

El Shaarawy not leaving AC Milan for Manchester City, insists Galliani

Adriano Galliano has stressed that AC Milan have no intention to let go of Stephan El Shaarawy amid reports that the attacker has caught the attention of Manchester City.

The 20-year-old has been in sublime form in the opening weeks of the 2012-13 campaign, netting eight goals in 11 Serie A appearances, and has supposedly attracted the interest of the Premier League champions.

Nevertheless, a transfer is not an option as the Rossoneri are determined to hold on to the promising youngster.

“El Shaarawy to Manchester City? Enough with the speculation! He has a contract for five more years until 2017, and will soon sign an extension until 2018,” Galliani told reporters.

The Milan CEO then spoke of his admiration for Mario Balotelli, but added that his respect for the Italy international does not necessarily mean the striker will end up at the club at some point.

“I have a profound love for Balotelli, but love doesn’t always end well …”

Galliano also had his say on this weekend’s refereeing controversies in Juventus’s 3-1 Serie A loss against Inter, and hinted that Paolo Tagliavento deliberately favoured the Bianconeri.

“Tagliavento was in charge of Milan versus Juventus last year and Juventus against Inter two days ago. I won’t say anything more …

“I will never forget about [Sulley] Muntari’s goal last season.”

Tagliavento attracted scrutiny in February 2012 after failing to spot that the Ghanaian’s header had crossed the line before Gianluigi Buffon collected the ball in a 1-1 draw at San Siro.

The headaches facing Mancini ahead of a defining week for Manchester City

By Chris Davie at Upton Park

A difficult week beckons for Roberto Mancini as Manchester City face the prospect of elimination from the Champions League, and failing to break down West Ham on Saturday evening has not served as an ideal preparation for Tuesday night’s tie against Ajax.

The Premier League champions registered 22 shots at Upton Park, with the best chance falling to Gareth Barry who miraculously managed to screw his effort wide from four yards out. But the fact that the most clear-cut opportunity presented itself to a defensive midfielder highlights one of Mancini’s primary concerns.

To penetrate a side who have conceded under a goal per game at home this season, Mancini opted to flank Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko either side of Carlos Tevez. It didn’t work. Dzeko looked awkward on the right wing and cumbersome in possession, slowing City’s attacks to a crawl, while West Ham’s George McCartney relished every time the Bosnian attempted to manoeuvre past him. It was a full-back’s dream.

Similarly, Balotelli struggled to excel in the channels. The Italian couldn’t grasp the timing of bending his runs inwards when Samir Nasri was in possession, which inevitably ended in the pair exchanging bemused looks as the ball ran harmlessly out of play. The 22-year-old was also guilty of missing two strong chances in each half, although his first came through a dead-ball situation rather than from any clever movement in open play.

Mancini cut an animated figure on the touchline, urging Balotelli and Dzeko to spot the distinction between a situation that required width and one where the duo needed to drive inside to cause James Collins and Winston Reid problems. The Italian’s instructions proved fruitless, although all of Balotelli’s chances were a result of the striker being in a central role, rather than from wide position.

To make matters worse, Kolo Toure’s safe performance at right-back offered little threat going forward. Vincent Kompany had Andy Carroll under control, West Ham’s counters were a rarity, but still Kolo Toure looked unable to make inroads in attack. The combination of the Ivorian’s rare forays forward with Dzeko’s ham-fisted approach to wing play restricted City from being dangerous on both flanks.

Mancini’s shortage of genuine wingers could prove problematic in the long term. Scott Sinclair was introduced in the 90th minute against West Ham and didn’t even get a touch in what was only his third league appearance for City this season. The 23-year-old was one of Swansea City’s exciting talents last year but his opportunities since his move in the summer have been restricted, despite Mancini evidently seeking a wide player whose natural talent is to attack full-backs and create chances for others.

The Premier League champions also lacked a consistent probe in central midfield. Nasri looked neat in possession but the Frenchman was found at times picking the ball up from the back four to launch attacks. Gareth Barry was excellent in his distribution but his best work, as he proved with his glaring second-half miss, is in the middle and defensive third, while Yaya Toure, for too long in the game, screened the back four.

It’s a typical tactic for Mancini to employ Yaya Toure further forward as the match progresses but the Ivorian was given licence to roam around 15 minutes before the final whistle. It wasn’t long enough, and with City lacking the fluidity across the front three, the earlier introduction of his midfield colossus in attack could have given West Ham more problems than they ultimately endured.

With David Silva out of the Ajax tie with a hamstring injury, Mancini will again be reliant on Nasri’s guile to unpick the Dutch at the Etihad Stadium. If Frank de Boer’s men can mimic West Ham’s resilience, City must be prepared to unshackle Yaya Toure earlier in the contest and sacrifice a little defensive security.
It wasn’t all negatives for Mancini, though. Matija Nastasic had a superb game alongside Kompany and, as the Italian pointed out after the match, a clean sheet is a welcome contrast to the leaky defence which plagued City’s start to the campaign.
With Pablo Zabaleta likely to return against Ajax, City will have a natural full-back who is competent going forward, which should add the balance that Mancini’s men lacked at Upton Park. While Sergio Aguero should also be fresh for the fixture after coming on as a second-half substitute on Saturday.

Perhaps the biggest bonus on Saturday for Mancini was the performance of Carlos Tevez, whose industry and purpose on the ball looked poles apart from the displays of Balotelli and Dzeko. The Argentine also flourished in a roaming role after half time and emerged as a catalyst in the majority of his side’s attacking play.

City remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League, but Mancini must be mindful of his team’s inability to turn possession into clear-cut opportunities. In order to progress in Europe, the toothless attack at Upton Park cannot be repeated on Tuesday night as City attempt their unlikely escape from Group D.

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'I know how to control my mind' – Balotelli reveals secret behind penalty success

Mario Balotelli has revealed the secret behind his 100 per cent penalty record for Manchester City.

The eccentric Italian striker believes that it is his mental strength which allows him to win the psychological battle against the opposing goalkeeper.

He told Time Magazine: “It’s just like a game of the mind, between me and the goalkeeper.

“Me, I know how to control my mind. When the keeper moves before me, it means that in this game of the mind he has lost.”
With racism dominating the off-pitch agenda in the past months, Balotelli observed that it is a problem rooted in ignorance.

“Racist people are few, in the minority, but you can do nothing to change them,” the forward observed. “You can talk, you can do what you want, but you can’t do anything because they are just stupid people.

“When I wasn’t famous, I had a lot of friends, almost all of them were Italian. The racism only started when I started to play football.

“But me, personally, I hope I can help Italy to be a modern country, like England or America.”

Balotelli also spoke about his bond with manager Roberto Mancini, whom he followed from Inter to Manchester City.

“My relationship with Mancini is really important. He’s known me since I was young and he’s like a father to me,” the 22-year-old explained.

“I used to play with the young children at Inter, so I know him very well and I can tell him anything.

“I have to train hard every training session and give ­everything on the pitch. You have four or five things that the manager asks you to do, then you have to play like you can play and give everything.”