x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Balotelli stamp on Parker does not look good, says David Platt

Manchester City are unlikely to appeal against the charge of violent conduct and will begin life without the firebrand Italian against Liverpool in the Carling Cup semi-final tonight.

Mario Balotelli reacts after scoring from the penalty sport against Tottenham Hotspur but it was the earlier incident with Scott Parker which will land the Italian in trouble.
Mario Balotelli reacts after scoring from the penalty sport against Tottenham Hotspur but it was the earlier incident with Scott Parker which will land the Italian in trouble.

Mario Balotelli has told Manchester City that he did not stamp on Tottenham Hotpur's Scott Parker deliberately but the Premier League leaders are likely to reluctantly accept his four-match ban for violent conduct.

The FA charged the Italian for the incident in Sunday's 3-2 win over Spurs and City, who have conceded that video evidence appears damning, believe an appeal is unlikely to succeed.

They have until 10pm tonight (UAE time) to contest the charges but the probability is that the suspension will begin with the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Anfield.

"If we were to appeal, I don't think we would win that appeal," said first-team coach David Platt. "I've seen it and whichever way you look at it, it doesn't look good. The likelihood is we will be without Mario for the next four games."

The FA were able to take action against Balotelli because referee Howard Webb reported that he would have given the Italian a red card had he seen it. Platt disputed the World Cup final official's view of events, saying: "It is my opinion that Howard saw the incident. But if he says he hasn't, we have to take that at face value. But equally if I follow that to its logical conclusion, I have to take Mario's claim that he didn't do it intentionally at face value as well."

City have already lost one appeal this month, following Vincent Kompany's red card against Manchester United in the FA Cup. A sense of injustice lingers, with Platt saying: "Is there anyone in this room who thought we might win an appeal over Vincent Kompany? I don't think there is but I think the majority of people would say he didn't deserve a red card or a four-match ban so that shows the futility of the appeal."

Were an appeal to be deemed frivolous, an extra game could be added to the suspension. Rather than seeing Balotelli banned for three league games plus tonight's tie at Anfield, such a scenario could rule him out for five league matches if City, who trail 1-0 after the first leg, do not reach the Carling Cup final.

While appeals rarely succeed, City are irritated by inconsistencies in the disciplinary procedures. While Balotelli faces a sanction, Platt pointed out, various other offences go unpunished at the time that do not bring retrospective disciplinary action. "Shouldn't you then revisit everything that's happened over the weekend under Law 12?" he asked. Law 12 concerns fouls and misconduct and, as a result, yellow and red cards.

Even before the latest controversy, Balotelli had been sent off three times in his eventful, 18-month City career, the last of them at Anfield in November's 1-1 draw.

If his notoriety precedes him, it is something Platt believes he must cope with. "There's obviously a perception around him and he commands column inches," he added. "It's something that is going to be with him throughout his career and therefore he has to handle it."

Balotelli's probable absence will mean City can only call upon two strikers, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero, as they bid to reach a first Carling Cup final in 36 years. They are also without Kompany as well as Kolo and Yaya Toure as they visit the club with the only unbeaten home record in English football, but Platt added: "We have got a group of players in there that I believe are capable of going to Anfield and turning around the semi-final."

City are likely to stick with Stefan Savic in the centre of defence, despite the Montenegrin's mistake on Sunday, which led to Jermain Defoe's goal for Tottenham.

"Stefan's general play was very, very good," Platt said. "We're delighted with him. He doesn't get fazed by errors that happen on a pitch and shows great personality."

sports@thenational.ae