Roberto Mancini’s training- ground fight with Mario Balotelli




Mario Balotelli and Roberto
Mancini had to be pulled
apart after an angry
training ground bust-up
between the pair on
Thursday raised yet more
questions over the
striker’s long-term future
at Manchester City.
A Balotelli challenge on
Scott Sinclair towards the
end of Thursday morning’s
session was too severe for
Mancini’s liking, with the
manager subsequently
involved in a grappling
match with his Italian
compatriot. The entire
fracas was captured by a
photographer, with the duo
separated by members of
Man City manager Roberto
Mancini and Mario Balotelli
square up to bring an end
to training for the day.
Photograph: Eamonn &
James Clarke.
the City coaching staff
before Balotelli returned to
the dressing room. He
departed the training
ground only 10 minutes
later.
One City insider has
described the spat as a
“storm in a teacup” and
said “it was forgotten about
instantly” but the club still
acknowledge the
significance of the high-
profile and now widespread
images. Mancini was
pictured still wagging his
finger as he entered the
office building – it is the
latest in a long line of
incidents that have tested
City’s patience with the
player since he signed in
2010.
There is no immediate
suggestion that Balotelli will
be officially punished by the
club – in fact, the
photographs arguably show
Mancini as the aggressor –
but that much will remain
unclear until the manager
speaks .
The automatic assertion
that a fracas with the
manager will trigger the end
of Balotelli’s colourful spell
in Manchester would also
be a bold one. Clubs may
balk at signing a player
who collects £170,000 a
week, and City are also
likely to seek at least £20m
for his signature. Thus far,
Milan have been the only
club consistently linked with
the striker.
Still, Mancini has been the
only figure at City to offer
regular backing to Balotelli
during turbulent times. With
that in mind, an indication of
a breakdown in the
relationship between the
manager and his 22-year-
old forward cannot be
ignored. Previously, Mancini
has referred to what he
regards as exaggerated
coverage of Balotelli’s
behaviour, claiming “every
time Mario does something,
it is like a war”.
At the end of last month,
Mancini moved to dismiss
the notion that Balotelli
would be moved on during
this transfer window.
Earlier in December, the
player had dropped a
tribunal case against the
Premier League champions
over the fine he was
issued with for a poor
disciplinary record last
season.
“I think Mario will stay but
the future depends mostly
on him,” Mancini told the
Italian media. “Sheikh
Mansour likes Balotelli
because he recognises the
talent and he exports the
name of City over the
world.
“We need to consider that
Mario was made as a major
investment, and this is not
a club that throws its
capital through the window.
“The relationship between
me and him is always good,
even if one day he does
something. I love him
because for many years we
live together. I’ve seen him
grow. But the professional
relationship is another
thing and I’ve told Mario
what I need from him.
“The time of cheap talk is
over. Balotelli is 22 years
old and now it’s time to be
professional. I ask from him
seriousness and
commitment in training, a
more stable private life and
correct behaviour on the
pitch.”
Indeed, it is far from
inconceivable that Balotelli
will return to the City lineup
for Saturday’s FA Cup
meeting with Watford
having recovered from a
virus.
Mancini’s attacking options
for that tie have been
limited by the hamstring
injury incurred by Sergio
Agüero, who will definitely
miss the Watford game and
is rated as doubtful for
City’s meeting with Arsenal
on 13 January. Agüero
limped out of City’s 3-0 win
over Stoke City on New
Year’s Day.
City’s Carrington training
centre is adjacent to a
public footpath, with the
council unwilling to let the
club build higher fencing for
privacy. Because of that,
incidents such as the one
on Thursday morning are
more likely to be captured
than if they occurred at
other clubs. City will move
to a new training ground in
2014.

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