Roberto Mancini has rejected the theory Manchester City's FA Cup chances have been given a boost due to the suspension of Wayne Rooney.
The FA confirmed yesterday that Rooney will miss the Wembley semi-final clash on April 16 after it upheld a two-match suspension for his foul-mouthed outburst at West Ham last weekend.
Rooney has declared himself "gutted" to miss the match, with Mancini claiming it would be better if the Manchester United striker was available for such a showpiece occasion.
However, although the 25-year-old scored a sensational overhead kick to settle the last meeting between the derby rivals in February and netted the last-minute goal to send United to the Carling Cup final last term, Mancini has denied City have cause to celebrate Rooney's absence.
"I don't think it improves our chances," said the Blues chief.
"We know Rooney can change a game in any moment like at Old Trafford where we deserved at least a draw. But the team is important.
"When there are important games it is better all the good players play but at the start of the season Rooney did not play and United were a strong team."
Rooney is convinced he is being made a scapegoat by the FA.
Twelve hours after he revelled in his matchwinning effort in Manchester United's Champions League quarter-final with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Rooney discovered there had been no leniency shown by the FA for his foul-mouthed outburst at Upton Park on Saturday.
It is not so much confirmation Rooney was wrong that has irritated the him.
In issuing a public apology so soon after the final whistle and being the father of a young child himself, Rooney understands the general vitriol.
What he cannot fathom is why previous instances of public swearing have gone unpunished whilst he must now miss two matches, one of which is going to be such a huge occasion.
"I am not the first player to have sworn on TV and I won't be the last," he argued.
"Unlike others who have been caught swearing on camera, I apologised immediately. And yet I am the only person banned for swearing. That doesn't seem right."
It is a view shared inside Old Trafford, where a feeling of being harshly treated has only been strengthened since Sir Alex Ferguson was handed a five-match touchline ban for his attack on referee Martin Atkinson following United's previous visit to Stamford Bridge at the beginning of last month.
"Manchester United is clearly very disappointed with the decision," said a statement issued by the Old Trafford outfit.
"The club put forward a very strong case to have the punishment reduced, which was unsuccessful."