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

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little