Mario Balotelli can save Manchester City's season by rediscovering the form that persuaded Roberto Mancini to bring him to Eastlands last summer.

The £24million striker has had an up-and-down campaign since joining the Citizens, having been sent off twice and delivering a number of under-par performances.

Mancini's patience have been well and truly tested, not least in Monday's crushing 3-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool.

Balotelli was introduced in the early stages of the game to replace the injured Carlos Tevez.

But his lacklustre performance meant the substitute was substituted midway through the second half – much to the annoyance of the 20-year-old Italian star.

Tevez's injury will certainly rule him out of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final tie with Manchester United and the City boss has called for Balotelli to fill the void left by their talismanic captain.


 

"He could be the hero. On Saturday, if he plays, he has a chance to do well. And if he scores a goal that can bring us to the final, he can change his year," he said.

"He has the big-game mentality to do it."

Balotelli has shown in bursts what he can do, scoring 10 goals in 23 appearances so far this term, with only 16 of those from a starting berth.

In a stop-start season that has been largely blighted by injury, the most frustrating thing for City fans is that Balotelli has undoubted world-class ability, but only when he wants to apply it, or so it would seem.

His inconsistency is something that must be addressed, starting now, ahead of the end of season run-in, and Mancini is willing his troubled star to come good.

"In the next six league games - and in the semi-final and final - I hope Mario can score goals."

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#Football
#Manchester City
#Carlos Tevez
#Premier League
#Mario Balotelli