Manchester City coach David Platt feels that Mario Balotelli is finally learning from the tough lessons that have come his way in England.
Balotelli returned from a four-match domestic suspension – his fourth since arriving at City in 2010 – and scored the opening goal in City’s 3-0 victory over Blackburn on Saturday.
The Italy striker, 21, is a regular in the gossip columns and has received as much attention for his off-field exploits as his performances for City.
But City felt it was wrong for Balotelli to be given his latest suspension, for an alleged stamp on Tottenham’s Scott Parker in the 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium in January.
And despite receiving several over-zealous challenges in the Blackburn game, Platt was pleased with the way the striker, who unveiled a T-shirt expressing his love for his girlfriend after scoring, took the punishment.
Platt said: “All players flash T-shirts and it doesn’t necessarily make them flamboyant. He was disciplined, his work-rate was exceptional on and off the ball and his temperament was exceptional.
“When a team defends deep against you have to give the ball to people that are marked and closely guarded and there are going to be kicks but you never thought there was going to be a reaction.”
City have now fired in 40 goals on the way to 13 consecutive home wins in the Premier League this season and they head in to March at the top of the table.
But Platt has warned his team not to expect to be expansive and free-scoring all the way to the end of the season.
“You can’t go 38 games and play the kind of football we were playing at the start of the season,” added Platt.