Raging Roberto Mancini still prefers fight over flight

No indication that Balotelli has been fined over incident

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Roberto Mancini yesterday said he had no regrets over Thursday's training ground confrontation with Mario Balotelli.

The Manchester City manager argued that the incident in which he grabbed Balotelli's training bib before ordering him to the changing rooms had looked worse than it was and lasted "only a few seconds".

He also said that Balotelli's challenge on Scott Sinclair would have been worth "two red cards" had it occurred during a match.

There is no indication that Balotelli has been fined.

Mancini viewed the incident as less serious than the persistent indiscipline on the pitch for which Balotelli was fined last season, or the player's appearing outside a strip club 48 hours before a match in March.

"No, I did nothing," said Mancini when asked if he regretted losing his temper so completely with the footballer he has mentored since he was a teenager. "I wanted Mario to leave the pitch and he said: 'No, I don't want to.' I know it is unusual for a manager to do this but I am not regretful."

Balotelli has not played for City since an unmotivated performance in last month's Manchester derby a few days before the birth of his daughter, Pia. Since then his private life has appeared like a case study for The Jeremy Kyle Show.

His foster parents, Francesco and Silvia Balotelli, have written an open letter to his former girlfriend and Pia's mother, Raffaela Fico, to urge her to stop giving interviews to the Italian press in which she invariably criticises their son's fitness to be a parent amid talk of DNA tests.

Balotelli's camouflaged Bentley has been seen in Wythenshawe, a working-class district of Manchester, where his birth mother, Rose Barwuah, has set up home.

Mancini remarked that he did not know whether Balotelli was in a fit state of mind to play football. For this afternoon's FA Cup tie with Watford, the best the striker can expect is a place on the bench.

"It is not easy to manage Mario," Mancini said. "If he doesn't change, the future will be very difficult – for him, not for me. If I think he can change, I will give him 100 chances but he should understand that a football career is very, very short. Three or four years can pass in what seems like a second."

Earlier this month Mancini claimed that the club's owner, Sheikh Mansour, wanted to keep Balotelli at the Etihad Stadium because he brought so much publicity to the club.

Yesterday, he fulfilled that requirement. There were so many television cameras crammed into the small press room at the Carrington training ground that Mancini asked with a smile whether Manchester City were holding a press conference for the Champions League final.

Mancini received support from an unlikely ally in the shape of Sir Alex Ferguson, who argued that Manchester City's inability to screen off their training pitches, because a public footpath runs alongside the, left the champions at a distinct disadvantage. "By closing off your training ground, you're protecting your success. Do ICI send an email to Bayer chemicals telling them about their new discoveries in drugs or whatever?" asked the United manager. "Cameramen want to be at training sessions which I think is ridiculous.

"Fortunately, at our place we can guard against that to a decent degree. Sometimes we get a photographer over in the woods but we've put these wolves in there! They never come now."