Jose to throw Balotelli back in at the deep end
Mario Balotelli will be offered the chance to earn forgiveness from Inter Milan fans on Saturday after Jose Mourinho confirmed the troublesome forward will start the Serie A game against Atalanta.
Balotelli's future at Inter was once again placed in doubt on Tuesday night when he reacted to being booed by some sections of the San Siro by throwing his shirt to the ground following the club's brilliant 3-1 win over Barcelona in the Champions League.
Balotelli, who has a string of indiscretions behind him, drew criticism from his own team-mates after his show of frustration. Dejan Stankovic said Balotelli acted "like a child", captain Javier Zanetti was "disappointed", while former Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, now of Barcelona, detailed how Marco Materazzi "attacked" his young team-mate in the tunnel.
It is rumoured that Balotelli's latest moment of controversy could have signalled the end of his time at Inter, but owner Massimo Moratti does not agree, stating: "It's a wound that will heal. It's a life lesson that might prove useful to him.''
Mourinho will offer Balotelli an immediate chance at redemption when Atalanta visit San Siro on Saturday, and the Nerazzurri manager hopes his talented, but hot-headed forward can be rehabilitated in the eyes of supporters.
"I say it immediately,'' Mourinho said. "We have an important game against Atalanta on Saturday and Balotelli will play. I hope that the fans will give Mario an opportunity, he has to prove that he has understood that he has made a mistake.
"I am saddened with what has happened between the fans and Mario, for him and for them. I understand the fans, who have seen all the players give a huge contribution and end the game with cramps and exhausted, only to see another player, Balotelli, have a different approach.
"This is the reason why I have criticised him for some time. Since my arrival here, I have received a lot of criticism for how I dealt with Balotelli. But any coach knows that certain actions are not right and must be corrected.
"People have finally realised and have reprimanded Mario, who then threw his jersey on the turf, clearly making a mistake."