City hitter: The curse of Super Mario strikes again

Ugly training ground spat with manager Mancini could spell the end of volatile Balotelli's time in English football

Mario Balotelli jeopardised his relationship with the one figure at Manchester City who has supported him throughout his troubled time in England today when he became involved in an extraordinary shoving match with Roberto Mancini at the club's training ground.

The open nature of City's training complex at Carrington, which has public footpaths running down two sides of it, meant that the embarrassing episode was captured by photographers.

Click here or click 'VIEW GALLERY' to see more images

 

 

The pictures show Mancini reacting angrily to Balotelli kicking out at Scott Sinclair and ordering the player to leave the training ground. Balotelli refuses and his manager tries, unsuccessfully, to drag him away. Eventually the two are separated by coaches Brian Kidd and Massimo Battara and the player belatedly goes in to change.

As usual with incidents involving Balotelli, the overwhelming sense is of embarrassment on all sides. For the player himself, who seems incapable of doing as he is told, while it does not look particularly edifying for Mancini as he struggles to shift his robust 22-year-old striker, having clearly lost his temper with the player.

The initial reaction from the club was that this was simply another "Mario moment" and that the confrontation was over in a matter of seconds before Balotelli was ushered away. But the fact that this time it was with his manager, rather than a team-mate, makes it different and no-one could say for certain how Mancini will react.

The City manager will announce at his press conference today whether he intends to fine Balotelli for his insubordination. As it stands, the feeling at the club was that the player would still be in the squad for tomorrow's FA Cup third-round tie against Watford, although Mancini has given himself time to reflect on the incident.

It is yet another training ground fight for Balotelli – to go with those he has had in the past with Jérôme Boateng, Yaya Touré and Micah Richards – but this one evidently has a greater edge to it given Mancini's unstinting support for the player in spite of grave doubts within the club.

The relationship between Mancini and Balotelli was cited as crucial in the player reversing his threat to take the club to a tribunal over a £340,000 fine for his on-pitch disciplinary record last season. Balotelli dropped the case, he said in a statement last month, "as a sign of respect for Roberto Mancini" -– a respect that was lacking today.

Balotelli has long been Mancini's pet project at the club, indulged and forgiven more often than his team-mates care to remember. His last game was a dismal showing in the defeat at home to Manchester United on 9 December. Since then he has missed the last month through an unspecified illness over the Christmas period.

That the pictures have emerged has been a huge source of frustration for City who are due to move to their new Etihad Campus training ground near their stadium in east Manchester in 18 months' time where they will be guaranteed privacy. For the time being their training ground is open to a footpath that runs between their land and that used by neighbours Sale Sharks rugby club.

Although the club have put up "green screens" to stop photographers, they are restricted by Trafford borough council regulations as to how high they can go. Photographers use ladders to go above them and take pictures. In the days before City joined the elite there was much less interest in the squad and the public access to the training ground was less of a problem.

In terms of Balotelli's long-term future at the club, it is not simply the case that Mancini, if he was so minded, would be easily rid of the player. The striker has two years left on his contract after this season with few takers at his salary level. The City manager also said in an interview last month that Balotelli was a favourite of the owner Sheikh Mansour.

Roll of dishonour: Balotelli's bust-ups

Balotelli v Jerome Boateng: 3 December 2010

The Italian took exception to a tackle from Boateng at Manchester City's training ground, resulting in the pair exchanging blows.

Balotelli v Vincent Kompany: 30 April 2011

Balotelli reacted angrily to a strong challenge from the City captain during training.

Balotelli v Micah Richards: 15 December 2011

A stray pass from Richards in a practice match led to Balotelli aiming a jibe at the defender – causing Richards to react furiously.

Balotelli v Yaya Toure: 11 March 2012

The pair had to be pulled apart during a heated half-time exchange as City went down 1-0 at Swansea.

Balotelli v Aleksandar Kolarov: 31 March 2012

Nigel de Jong and Kompany pushed Balotelli away from Kolarov as he demanded to take a free-kick against Sunderland.

Balotelli v Roberto Mancini: 23 September 2012

Mancini pushed Balotelli in the back after the player reacted to being taken off late on in a draw with Arsenal.

Mark Percival

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project