Roberto Mancini is in no mood to jettison Mario Balotelli from Manchester City just yet

City manager retains affection for wayward striker and maintains focus on halting the slide

Whatever damage Mario Balotelli may have wrought on Manchester City's season so far, and the collapse of their lead in the Premier League can hardly be blamed on him alone, there was no mood at the club yesterday to throw him out immediately.

The 22-year-old will face a three-match ban regardless following his red card at the end of Sunday's defeat to Arsenal, and there is a possibility a further six games will be added if he is also retrospectively punished for the stamp on Alex Song. Either way, the Balotelli issue is not the most pressing concern on Roberto Mancini's desk at the moment.

The City manager is more preoccupied with the slim possibility of making up an eight-point gap to Manchester United over the last six games of the season, and he will also want to ensure that, if the title is lost, it is not lost when United visit the Etihad on 30 April. For the time being Balotelli, the 22-year-old who has proved borderline uncontrollable at times this season, is a problem for another day.

Nevertheless, the mood on the City squad's flight back from London on Sunday after the match was not for kicking the young Italian out the club. In his post-match press conference, Mancini answered "probably" to a question about whether he would sell the player in the summer but was at pains to clarify to club officials later that it was not at the forefront of his mind.

 

Put simply, the City manager, for all his authoritarianism and his stand-offish disposition, likes Balotelli. His protestations towards the end of his press conference on Sunday that he "loved" Balotelli and did not wish to see the adopted son of white Italian parents thrown on to the scrap heap were, according to those close to Mancini, entirely genuine.

Despite Balotelli's performance against Arsenal, almost entirely destructive to his own club's cause, his team-mates are not yet at the mutiny stage over his behaviour. It does not go unnoticed that Balotelli is given a longer leash than some of his team-mates – not least in his frequent visits back to Italy – and while it has caused problems it does not extend as far as his team-mates wishing he was out of the club.

The player himself is tolerated by team-mates, even if he does test patience at times. As one source close to the situation said yesterday, "If Mario was a complete d***, he wouldn't have lasted as long as he has at the club."

The Italian's agent, Mino Raiola, said yesterday that Balotelli had apologised for his actions during the game on Sunday. Balotelli was photographed yesterday at City's Carrington training ground, where he spent around an hour. Raiola said: "I talked with Balotelli, the boy was sorry for what happened. Mancini said he will be sold? I'm going to speak directly with Roberto and with the club, but I don't think they will really do it."

While Balotelli's life is often, accurately, characterised as chaotic and the player himself as uncaring about the consequences of his actions, a story about his private life that emerged last week is understood to have caused him considerable upset. The player was outed for having an affair with Jennie Thompson, the same woman who alleged that she had a relationship with Wayne Rooney in 2010.

Thompson gave her side of the story to the Sun on Sunday, published on the day of the Arsenal game. Balotelli knew that these revelations were coming out for weeks in advance of their public disclosure. He is in a long-term relationship with his Italian girlfriend, Raffaela Fico.

In terms of City's fading challenge – they play West Bromwich Albion at home tomorrow night – the midfielder James Milner said that it had been the club's dismal away form that had let them down. They have taken one point from their last three games away from home.

Milner said: "We have played well for the majority of the season, but have come unstuck for whatever reason over the past few weeks, most of the time away from home. We have been very strong at home, but away have not got the results we want. It is about having that ruthlessness on the road which we can learn from."

For the time being Mancini's position will be reviewed by chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak at the end of the season. There have been no clear signs yet from the club's Abu Dhabi owners that they are restless for change but a complete collapse in the remaining six games of the season would change the picture.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
News
Michelle Dockery plays Lady Mary in Downton Abbey
peopleBut who comes top of the wish list?
News
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, right, with Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds in Newtown, Powys, as part of her tour in support of the party’s female candidates
general electionNick Clegg's wife has impressed during the campaign
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living