- Premier League
Hart admits City players were 'unsure' about Balotelli
Goalkeeper Joe Hart admits life can be frustrating with Mario Balotelli but is convinced the striker now has his head ''screwed on''.
Balotelli's remarkable propensity to create headlines on and off the pitch continued over the weekend after a domestic firework incident was followed by a devastating two-goal display in a 6-1 thrashing of Manchester United.
The fire service were called to Balotelli's Cheshire home in the early hours of Saturday morning after a firework set off from inside the bathroom started a blaze. The Italian was forced to decamp to a hotel but the incident barely seemed to have ruffled him as he revealed a T-shirt saying 'Why Always Me?' after his first goal in the rout at Old Trafford.
The 21-year-old rarely seems far from controversy despite earning praise for greater on-field maturity of late but, after six goals in five games, Hart is growing to love him.
Hart told City TV: ''I think we were all a bit unsure last season, outside and inside, what he was about. I think he has grown as a person and accepted who and what he is in this team. He is someone we look to.
''All the hype that comes with Mario is standard procedure. That is the beauty of football, that is what he is. You get these characters and sometimes it is frustrating to be with him, but not so much this season.
''His head is really screwed on and we are all 100 per cent behind him. I think everyone is delighted he is getting the right kind of love he deserves.''
After clashing with manager Roberto Mancini during the pre-season tour of the United States, Balotelli appeared to become fourth-choice striker after reacting angrily to his substitution in the Community Shield in August.
But the former Inter Milan forward has since earned praise for his attitude in training and the ongoing controversy surrounding Carlos Tevez has offered a chance to play his way back into Mancini's affections.
Hart added: ''He is a great player and he is using his head for all the right things. He is doing all the right things and is working well with the team. I can't say enough positives about him. He is a team player, he scored his goals and I am delighted for him.''