Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes opposition players target Mario Balotelli to get him sent off, and has urged his fellow Italian striker not to let anyone wind him up.
The 21-year-old was given his marching orders in last weekend's Barclays Premier League draw with Liverpool - lasting just 17 minutes, having arrived from the bench in the second half - after being dismissed for two yellow cards; the second for an elbow on Reds defender Martin Skrtel.
It was the third red card of Balotelli's short Citizens career - he only moved to the Etihad Stadium in the summer of 2010 - but despite his poor disciplinary record, the former Inter Milan forward has chipped in with nine goals in his last 11 City appearances.
"I think there are players [who target Balotelli and wind him up]," said Mancini. "Mario should pay attention and he should be clever.
"We can do nothing. Only he is on the pitch, not us. He should just think about football."
Balotelli is back in contention to play against Norwich this weekend, but Mancini took time to warn the striker about his fiery character both on and off the field.
"During the game it's difficult [to talk to him]. He should not take any risks in these situations," he added.
"He is more mature but it is my opinion that if Mario had stayed on the pitch we could have won that game [against Liverpool], with 11 players against 11.
"But when he was sent off we could only draw. We can't risk losing the game and it's important that Mario knows we need him as a player on the pitch."
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