Mario Balotelli not surprised by Roberto Mancini's sacking by Manchester City owners
Balotelli worked under the Italian coach at Manchester City and Inter Milan
Italy striker describes Mancini as a "great manager"
Forward says there were "problems inside" City squad
Editor’s Note: CNN will publish a full exclusive interview with AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli on Friday May 17 at 1700 BST, where he says he thinks he was treated unfairly in England, finds it hard being a global icon and admits having a love for women and fast cars.
Roberto Mancini’s sacking as Manchester City manager came as no surprise to Mario Balotelli.
A year to the day after winning City’s first championship in nearly half a century, Mancini was sacked by the club’s Abu Dhabi owners on Monday.
The 48-year-old Mancini’s dismissal followed City’s shock FA Cup defeat by Wigan on Saturday and their inability to defend their English Premier League title as rivals Manchester United ran away with the league this season.
AC Milan striker Balotelli – who played a part in City’s Premier League title success as City finished top for the first time in 44 years last season – endured a love-hate relationship with his former manager before his move to Italy.
“I am not really surprised,” Balotelli, who joined Milan in a $30 million transfer in January, told CNN. “When I was with him he was a great manager and we had the best, I think, one of the best teams I have played with.”
After Mancini’s sacking, City’s former kit man Stephen Aziz, described the Italian as “arrogant, vain and self-centred” in one of a series of tweets that were later deleted from his Twitter account on Tuesday.
And Balotelli hinted at difficulties within the City squad.
“I don’t know why they didn’t win. But obviously there were some problems inside - I don’t know. I am here so I don’t know.”
The striker left City in January as he returned to Serie A following a training ground bust-up with Mancini – an incident that was caught by photographers and received prominent media coverage.
It was the final episode in a tempestuous partnership with Mancini first having given Balotelli his big break as a raw, but talented 16-year-old at Inter Milan.
Jose Mourinho described Balotelli as “unmanageable” during his time as Inter coach, but Mancini was more willing to forgive the talented striker’s misdemeanors.
At times Balotelli endured a troubled time at City, crashing his car on the way to training just days after signing in August 2010, while he was also reprimanded for throwing a dart at a youth team player the following March.
In October 2011, Balotelli was forced to call the emergency services to his home after a firework was set off in his bathroom, leading to a fire.
The next day he helped City defeat Manchester United win 6-1 at their rival’s Old Trafford stadium before revealing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words, “Why always me?”
Just weeks before their infamous coming together on January 3, Mancini had spoken of his love and admiration for a man who he considered to be a son.
“I love Mario because for many years we have worked and lived together,” he told the British media in January.
“I’ve seen him grow. But the professional relationship is another thing and I’ve told Mario what I need from him.”