[unable to retrieve full-text content]
â€¢ Italian is happy in Manchester, says Mino Raiola
â€¢ ‘Moment of tension’ with club has been resolved
Mario Balotelli will stay at Manchester City for the next two years despite his controversial season at the club, according to his agent Mino Raiola, who travelled to Manchester for talks with the forward and Roberto Mancini regarding his future.
The Italian was sent off at Arsenal on Sunday, the third red card Balotelli has received, and missed the 4-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday as he served the first of a three-game ban.
After Mancini appeared to have finally lost patience with the forward there was speculation he could return to Italy. But Raiola told Sky Italia: “I am in Manchester but not for any transfer business. I have talked with Mario and Mancini, there was a moment of tension but now the situation is calmer. Mario has understood his errors. He is special in every way. Sometimes he makes mistakes without meaning to. There is enormous pressure from the fans on Mario but Manchester City do not intend to sell him. He must grow here, then in one or two years we’ll see. He must stay here. It is not true he is unhappy. When he leaves England he will do it as a winner.”
City are five points behind Manchester United after the champions lost to Wigan Athletic 1-0 on Wednesday and Ryan Giggs told his United team-mates to “put the pressure on” by focusing on maximum points from their next two games, which are at home.
Before Everton visit next weekend Villa are at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. City can reduce the gap to two points by winning at Norwich City 24 hours earlier.
“We don’t have to get too down,” Giggs said. “It has happened quite a bit this season where there has been the odd display where we just haven’t performed. The main thing is that we have recovered from it. That is what we have to do again. It is important that we get six points from the next two games. We are at Old Trafford, we are at home. We will be looking to win both games and put the pressure on. We have had poor performances throughout the season, and results, but we have always bounced back.”
At the turn of the year United lost consecutively to Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United before winning 11 of their next 12 league games until the Wigan defeat. “We didn’t perform,” said Giggs of United’s display. “Our normal passing game wasn’t as fluent and we kept giving the ball away. You have to give credit to Wigan. We will have to look at the game, work on it and get ready for Sunday.”
Sergio AgÃ¼ero, who scored twice against West Brom, urged City to go for the title, though he knows it will be difficult. “Why wait until next season if we can win it now?” he said. “We’re fighting until the very end. We all want to make it and, though it won’t be easy, we believe we can win the Premier League. Winning titles is about never giving up and we will never give up. I want to win it this season and then many more with City after that.
“Of course it was important to win [against West Brom]. We knew we had to win as at any moment United could drop points, as happened. They dropped three points, which gives us more confidence to fight for the Premier League. We have to be focused now for all the remaining games, these five games, try to win, to win points. Then, when United come here [on 30 April], hopefully we will have won every game.”