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Players mentally weak, says Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini has officially turned into an old man: not only did he decide to pour water on any optimism that Manchester City fans have for the coming season, he's also started complaining about young people these days, saying that they're not as mentally tough as he and his generation were when they were lads. He may or may not have been smoking a pipe when he said these things.

His criticism of players appears to be at least in part directed at mad-as-a-hatter striker Mario Balotelli, who appears to be going further off the rails with each passing day. If only he would listen to his old uncle Roberto, eh?

'When I was a player 15 or 20 years ago we were mentally stronger than they are now,' said Mancini. 'Why are they less strong? We were hungry then, we had less money and we wanted to become top players. We were prepared to give up everything for this.

'We were serious. When I was young, 17 or 18, I made mistakes like all of you. But when you are 20 it is time that you change because a player's career is not long – 10 or 12 years. It is important that Mario [incidentally, aged 20] understands this.

'But I have more patience with players that are young. I understand Mario is homesick and I am patient with him although sometimes I am really disappointed with him but he needs experience and he understands that he needs to improve his behaviour.

'When I spoke to him last time he said: 'Boss, I want to be here.' I have known him since he was at Inter. Mario's a fantastic guy and I don't say that because I bought him or because I'm his manager, it's because he is a fantastic guy.

'He sometimes does incredible behaviour on the pitch, sometimes he doesn't think but, off the field, Mario is often very kind to people. He's fantastic. I trust him because I know him very well and off the pitch he's an incredible man. I also think Mario is one of the top players in the world.'

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