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As well as scoring four in his last four games, Balotelli has also been more consistent in his all round game, but baulks at the idea when it is suggested he has been "impessive".

Balotelli now comes up against Rio Ferdinand for the first time since they clashed at the end of the FA Cup semi, when the United skipper took exception to Balotelli waving his City shirt in the general direction of Nike Air Max Thea Coral

"But the real Mario is coming now and it isn't the same Mario as last year. Even last year I think I did good because I didn't play for a long time so it was good what I did last year before my injury.

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The manager has become a father figure for Balotelli, always ready to talk, not afraid to shout he famously threw Balotelli's luggage at him in the dressing room after his red card against Dynamo Kiev last season.

But the respect is mutual. Says Balotelli: "With Mancini I feel very comfortable. I've known him a long time and he's a good manager.

"Maybe I'll stay in now with my family, my brother or girlfriend. They weren't here last year, they came sometimes but they were not based here. That's definitely helped.

the largely empty stand where United fans had been.

"I'm OK now, I'm good. I'm happy the only problem in England is the weather! Everything is getting better."

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On the field last term, he racked up two red cards and 11 yellows in just 28 appearances Air Max Tavas White Gray this year he has had no disciplinary blemishes at all.

It was blighted from the start as he damaged a knee meniscus on his debut at Timisoara, meaning he sometimes struggled for fitness when he re joined the fray.

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"With the injury I wasn't sure about myself or my body. Like with tackles, I didn't do them because I wasn't sure about myself. This year I feel more free."

"It's quieter now but also I am growing up. If last year I missed home so much, maybe now I miss it a little bit less.

That hug for Mancini was by way of a thank you.

"This is down to me because it's me that changed my life," he said. "Well, I didn't change my life but changed things like I don't live in town anymore. I'm outside now so it's more quiet. I try to stay at home more.

´╗┐Balotelli determined to leave bad boy image behind ahead of Manchester derby

It is no coincidence. Balotelli has set out to make the right headlines in this campaign, and says he is much fitter than he was last season, when he was plagued by injuries.

The Italy international was not entirely happy with his debut season.

he rose to the challenge in big games perhaps his two best performances were in the FA Cup semi final win over United and the FA Cup final but occasionally he flattered to deceive in more humdrum matches.

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"But this year it's going to be better, I hope. It has to be better.

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"It's not impressive to me because I knew already and Mancini knew how I used to play," he said. "Last year I couldn't because of my injury. I couldn't play at the top.

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He waited for his chance, went on as a substitute against Everton and after scoring the vital breakthrough goal, ran to hug his chief jailer Roberto Mancini.

And the 20 year old has managed it so far, playing well, scoring goals, staying out of trouble on the field and avoiding barmy incidents off it.

It is clear that Mancini likes Balotelli as a person, loves him as a footballer, and sometimes despairs of his antics.

"He believes in me. Even when no one in England believed in me, he did. And he kept on believing in me. I want to do something important here with him."

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The bonkers stuff, plus his undoubted talent on the field, have made him a cult hero, especially among City's younger fans but Balotelli is set on change.

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As James Milner a consummate professional said last week, Balotelli did not "throw his teddies out of the pram" when forced to sit on the bench for the opening games of the season.

He has already moved out of his apartment on Deansgate for a quieter home in the Cheshire countryside.

The striker has revealed how he has made a determined effort to get rid of the "bad boy" image and make headlines for all the right reasons this season.

noticeable lack of the potty exploits of last year like throwing darts at youth team players, driving into a women's prison, or collecting parking tickets.

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