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Mancini: Balotelli is not 'mad'

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has insisted striker Mario Balotelli is not mad, but feels football is the better for having such characters in the game.

• Mario Balotelli: A world all his own

Balotelli has found a real level of consistency on the field this season, but Mancini is aware his fellow Italian is prone to off-field lapses - such as the incident that saw his bathroom catch on fire when a firework was fired from the window.

Mancini often does not know which version of Balotelli will turn up at training - but he was in jovial mood on Tuesday. He was seen ripping Sergio Aguero's hat off his head before jokingly tossing it in the air.

Balotelli is clearly tough to manage but Mancini feels he is good for the game.

"Mario is a special player, someone who can break open any match," Mancini said. "Yes, he's different. But he understands his football and has given us some lovely moments. Mad? No. Mario is different, unpredictable.

"Some days he arrives in a very serious mood and other times he is joking. But these types of player are needed in football."

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