Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini played down his row with Mario Balotelli and insists the striker still has a future with him by claiming he will give him another ‘100 chances’ at the club. The Italian pair were pictured grappling on the training ground in an apparent bust-up in the latest in a long line of incidents involving the controversial striker.
Mancini took exception to a bad tackle from Balotelli on teammate Scott Sinclair during a training match but the City manager played it down yesterday. He claimed he asked the 22-year-old striker to leave the pitch after the tackle but when he refused the pair exchanged words in a heated argument which got physical.
Mancini admitted to losing his temper with the player but insists he has no regrets over the incident and does not feel like he has to speak to the player about it.
“It wasn’t a bad thing like it is in the paper,” said Mancini. “The photo is worse than what happened. We were playing a game and Mario kicked his teammate and I said to him: ‘Go inside, leave the pitch’. He said ‘no’, and I take his shirt, I push him off the pitch.
“This is what really happened, no fight. For two seconds, yes I lose my temper. Because he didn’t want to leave the pitch and he should leave. “I will give him 100 chances as long as I can see him trying to improve. I am here for this. Also if sometimes I am upset with him because he does everything for this. I give him another chance, sure, because he is 22 and he can do a mistake,” he added. Mancini insisted it does not change Balotelli’s position at the club and he could still feature on the bench for City’s FA Cup third round clash against Watford.
Utd take on West Ham
On the eve of their FA Cup match against West Ham United, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson confirmed that Wayne Rooney will miss a further two weeks with a knee problem.
Rooney has been absent since the 1-1 draw at Swansea due to the injury, which United initially expected to keep him out for a fortnight. Ferguson, who has struggled with defensive absences throughout the season, insists his squad can cope with Rooney being sidelined but is frustrated to be without the England striker at such a vital period.
He said: “We’ve got West Ham, Liverpool and Tottenham the week after that and the FA Cup hopefully after that so it’s a tough period and you want your best squad available.”
The United manager also admitted that he is frustrated by the club’s recent record in the FA Cup, which they have not won since 2004.
Ferguson said: “We’ve had some difficult ties and you hope you get a home draw and it’s something you can navigate and get to the next round.” After the Mancini-Balotelli bust-up, Ferguson admitted that being able to train in privacy is vital for a manager. He said: “It’s very difficult for the coach to do work related to a game because you don’t know where the information can go. It’s a disappointment and it’s hard for a coach.”
Man City vs Watford
Southampton vs Chelsea
Tottenham vs Coventry City
West Ham vs Man United