• Vieira: It was really difficult for Balotelli and I to work together
    12:10 | 17/01/2020

    The pair failed to click in their short time together on the Cote d’Azur, with the striker soon moving on to Marseille.

    Photo by Getty/Goal

    Patrick Vieira may be a relative newcomer in football coaching, but the Nice boss admits that taking on Mario Balotelli was one of his biggest challenges to date.

    The former Arsenal midfielder began working at Manchester City after hanging up his boots, acting as the club’s football development executive to oversee the youth system.

    He then switched to the United States to take the reins at MLS side New York City FC, before landing in Nice prior to the 2018-19 season.

    One of Vieira’s charges was Balotelli, famed for his volatile temperament and tendency to switch clubs on a regular basis.

    And true to his reputation, the Italy forward turned up late to his first Nice training session under the new coach and lasted just a handful of months before moving on to Marseille.

    Balotelli is now at hometown side Brescia, and Vieira confesses that he had his hands full with the striker.

    “Mario’s mindset was difficult for a collective sport,” he said to the Daily Mail.

    “The philosophy I wanted to put in place, the togetherness and work ethic I wanted to build, it was difficult for me to work with a player like Mario.

    “It was really difficult for both of us to work together, so we decided to go different ways.”

    Vieira spent much of his career under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, the pair winning three Premier League crowns together in north London.

    And he acknowledges that his compatriot is a huge influence now he has moved into coaching.

    “Even when Arsene was in a difficult period, he remained at the same level. It was not like when we were winning he was higher or when we were losing he was low,” Vieira added.

    “That is something I really like and it’s important because as a player it gives you confidence.

    “But all the managers I had, from Wenger to Jose Mourinho to Roberto Mancini, knew the players and knew how to connect with them.”

    Nice currently sit in 11th place in Ligue 1, but can close the gap on third-placed Rennes to five points with victory at home against the Breton side in their next league outing on January 24.

    Source – Goal.com

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