Balotelli must accept criticism and bench says coach Prandelli
Mario Balotelli has got to learn to accept being criticised and being on the substitutes bench sometimes, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said.
The temperamental 21-year-old scored his first European Championship goal against Ireland on Monday but celebrated with what appeared an angry tirade before team-mate Leonardo Bonucci shut him up with a fatherly hand over his mouth to prevent the lip-readers having a field day.
Balotelli had been benched by Prandelli for Italy’s third and final Group C clash having started the previous two.
He had also come in for criticism from the Italian press for his less than spectacular performances in Poland and he was roundly jeered by Ireland fans during his 20-minute cameo.
It wasn’t clear who his ire after scoring was aimed at but Bonucci claimed he hadn’t understood as Balotelli was talking in English and Prandelli said he too didn’t know.
But he hit out at the sulky Manchester City striker, saying he needs to learn to take the rough with the smooth and to never forget that there is no ‘i’ in the team.
“Right now the spirit of the team is important, what matters on this journey is that every player called up gives 100 per cent,” said Prandelli.
“That’s what I like because it means they have great respect for the team and when that’s the case they also run for the team.
“Balotelli came on and did what we asked of him.”
And Prandelli wasn’t prepared to criticise his forward for not seeming happy with his goal.
“As for smiling, his reaction was spontaneous. As for his behaviour he’s always like this... therefore it wasn’t strange.
“He must accept difficulties and criticisms and also to be on the bench or that the team ask for more from him. The day that he realises that no-one wishes him any harm and that all they want is to help him develop, then he’ll become a great player.”
As for Bonucci’s damage-limitation exercise, Prandelli said that showed how popular Balotelli is within the camp.
“You could also see the spirit of the team in this gesture, which was a protective one.
“It was worth it because certain things inside should be managed personally, I was very happy with Bonucci.”