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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Mar 18, 2011

De Jong warns Balotelli on behaviour

Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong fears Mario Balotelli will become a marked man because of his petulant behaviour.

Balotelli, 20, was red carded last night - his second of his debut season after arriving from Inter Milan in the summer.

The Italian striker was banished to the dressing room in the 36th minute by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir for a studs-up challenge on Dynamo Kiev defender Goran Popov.

Although Aleksandar Kolarov scored three minutes later City went down 2-1 on aggregate to exit the Europa League at the last 16 stage. Manager Robert Mancini was incensed by Balotelli's action and de Jong is concerned that some opponents will target his team-mate.

De Jong said: "Tomorrow is a new day and I am sure we are going to sit down with Mario. He has got to realise he has to change how he plays because he is always going to be a marked man. He knows that.

"We have to continue with him as well. He has a lot of potential, the skill he shows at times is unbelievable. He is a talented boy and maybe you do not intend to let your team down with those sort of things. But I told him as well you have got to learn from your mistakes.

"We are there to help him, not to criticise him or blast him away. He has experienced guys around him and has to listen to them. After the game he was angry and he was disappointed. Sometimes you make mistakes and Mario made his mistake. But he will get everything straight again.''

Mancini is now threatening to drop Balotelli on Sunday when they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge - a team like themselves aiming for a top four finish and a Champions League spot.

The City boss has a dilemma as former Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko is taking time to settle and Carlos Tevez's goal have dried up, although no one can question the club captain's work-rate.

"Am I disappointed with Balotelli? Yes. Have I spoken with him? No," Mancini said. "I didn't see the ball so I don't know if it was a red or yellow card. But you need to pay attention (to what you are doing).''

Former Chelsea and Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko, who scored in the first leg, admitted Balotelli's dismissal was a boost for his side.

"It was very important to play against 10 men for most of the match. I do not know what happened there about the red card but it helped a lot,'' Shevchenko said.

De Jong does not think there will be any hangover from the defeat when they face Chelsea, who have drawn Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-final.

"It is a big challenge as is every game from now on because we are coming to the end of the season, '' said the Dutch international. Everyone is trying for those places in the top four and we are big rivals with Chelsea. It is going to be a big test again but we will go there with 100% confidence.''

Midfielder Adam Johnson is again likely to be on the bench after making a quicker-than-expected return from an ankle injury.

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