Mancini prepared to give Balotelli 'another 100 chances'
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is prepared to give controversial striker Mario Balotelli “another 100 chances” after playing down the pair’s latest confrontation.
Mancini was photographed grappling with his fellow Italian in a training-ground bust-up yesterday but he says it was not a fight and the incident was over within moments.
Mancini has repeatedly backed Balotelli throughout a long line of controversies and he insists his patience is not wearing thin despite yet another headline-grabbing episode.
Mancini said: “I will give him another 100 chances, if it is possible, if I think he can change. I am here for this.
“Sometimes I am upset with him because he doesn’t do everything for this, but I will give him another chance, sure.
“He is 22 and he can make a mistake.”
Balotelli has previously been involved in training-ground confrontations with team-mates Micah Richards, Jerome Boateng and Vincent Kompany.
All of them were captured by photographers because the club’s Carrington training base is flanked by public footpaths, a source of recurring frustration for the club.
The latest flashpoint occurred after a bad tackle by Balotelli on Scott Sinclair during a training game.
Mancini ordered him to leave the field and he admits he briefly lost his temper with his former Inter Milan protege.
Mancini said: “For two seconds, yes – maybe three or four seconds, because he didn’t want to leave the pitch.
“He can’t do this against anyone, but then it was finished.
“It wasn’t a bad thing like (it was reported) in the papers. The photo is worse than what happened.
“We were playing a game and Mario kicked his team-mate and I said to him, ’Go inside, leave the pitch’. He said ’no’, and I took his shirt, I pushed him off the pitch.
“This is what really happened, there was no fight.”
The photographs, which quickly spread around the world, again brought Balotelli’s future at the club into question.
The Italy international has not played since the December 9 derby loss to Manchester United and had been linked with a return to his homeland during this month’s transfer window.
But Mancini has no intention of selling the player and nor will he subject him to disciplinary action.
Mancini said: “This doesn’t change anything, this is something that can happen.
“Usually it is between two players. It is different because I wanted him to leave the pitch after what he did.”
But Mancini has again reiterated his often-repeated urge for Balotelli to reform his ways.
Mancini voiced fears that Balotelli’s talent could go to waste if he did not improve his attitude after his poor display against United, when he headed straight down the tunnel after being substituted.
Balotelli was dropped for the next match at Newcastle and it then emerged the striker was taking the club to a Premier League tribunal in a dispute over an internal fine.
Balotelli abandoned that challenge and has since been absent from the last four games with a virus. He could be on the bench for this weekend’s FA Cup third-round tie against Watford at the Etihad Stadium, with the latest matter unlikely to affect Mancini’s planning, but the manager wants him to change.
Mancini said: “The problem could be himself. (If) he doesn’t change, for him it will be very difficult in the future – for him, not me.
“Mario could stay with me one day, one month, five years. He is 22 years old. He needs to change. His problem is for himself.
“It is not easy to manage him and we can talk about him, but my thoughts about him don’t change.
“What he did yesterday he can do also during the game – this is the problem, but I have faith, yes.”