Bigger clubs do get an easier ride, admits Mancini

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Roberto Mancini believes bigger clubs do get "different treatment" – such as the decision not to take action for Wayne Rooney's elbow at the weekend – but it comes as no surprise to him. Manchester City's Italian manager says it is the same in every country.

While the Manchester United forward escaped disciplinary action, City were on the receiving end of a retrospective FA sanction almost exactly a year ago when Patrick Vieira was given a three-match ban for kicking out at Stoke's Glenn Whelan in an incident missed by the referee but later picked up by the authorities.

Of last Saturday's incident, Mancini said: "For me it was his [Rooney's] fault and I'm surprised at this. The referee was there. I think that this happens in every country, it's normal. The big club usually has different treatment. For me it was a red card, the same as everyone."

With City's hopes of overhauling United in the league all but gone, Mancini is now looking to the cup competitions for solace as his club try to end the long search for silverware.

Gérard Houllier's Aston Villa, who triggered City's poor run, are the FA Cup fifth-round visitors tonight in what will be City's seventh game in just under a month. With a long trip to Dynamo Kiev looming next week in the Europa League, the fixture pile-up is threatening to stretch Mancini's injury-hit squad to the limit.

"We hope that we can win. We don't have a date [to rest players] because we play every two or three days," explained Mancini. "I don't want to sacrifice anything, we can take this situation. We should play 100 per cent and try to win and then deal with the other games. At this moment I think we can win the FA Cup or Europa League and [finish] in fourth position [in the league] – this is our target."

For that, Mancini needs more from the enigma that is Mario Balotelli. The Italian forward may have scored in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Fulham, but the £24m signing's contribution was questioned and he has now been told in no uncertain terms to do more.

"I expect more because Mario has an incredible attitude to play football," said Mancini. "On Sunday, he scored a fantastic goal, but after this he should continue to play, to play for the team. Mario can do better."