sport

Mario scrap was nothing - Mancini

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini claims he does not always forgive Mario Balotelli - but says his latest misdemeanour was "nothing".

Mancini is prepared to give Balotelli "another 100 chances" after playing down this week's confrontation between the pair on the training ground.

Mancini was photographed grappling with his fellow Italian in a training-ground bust-up on Thursday, the latest in a long line of controversies involving the 22-year-old forward.

The manager insists the matter was soon over and was blown out of proportion because of the player involved and the pictures made the incident look bad.

On Friday, Mancini said: "I don't always forgive him. Sometimes he was out for three or four weeks.

"I hope he can understand. Yesterday was nothing, compared to what he did other times - nothing. It is finished."

The latest headline-grabbing Balotelli moment came just over a fortnight after he dropped his challenge to a Premier League tribunal over a club fine at the 11th hour.

There had been speculation since then that Balotelli, who has not played since December 9 due first to selection decisions and then a virus, could be sold during this month's transfer window.

That has been dismissed by Mancini, who remains determined to coax the best out of his former Inter Milan protege.

He 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 give him another chance, sure.

"This doesn't change anything, this is something that can happen."

It has been suggested that the recurring issues surrounding Balotelli both on and off the field are damaging to City's reputation but Mancini is confident his stance is backed by the club's hierarchy.

Mancini said: "They always support me and the team. I think they are like me, they hope that every day Mario can change and think only to play, think about his job."

Despite his regular backing for Balotelli, Mancini has frequently urged the player to reform his ways and voiced fears his talent could be wasted if he does not.

He said: "I think he should understand the career of players is very short.

"He is 22 - three, four or five years can pass in one second.

"I hope that the days arrives that he can understand that he can't leave his quality like this.

"I hope for him - also if he did a lot of mistakes - he can change."

Balotelli, who joined City for 24million from Inter in 2010, has previously clashed on the training ground with team-mates Micah Richards, Vincent Kompany and Jerome Boateng.

All were captured by photographers because City's Carrington training base is surrounded by public footpaths and the fences erected for privacy cannot be made higher due to planning regulations.

The latest flashpoint occurred when Balotelli made a bad tackle on Scott Sinclair in a training match and Mancini ordered him off. Mancini grabbed Balotelli after he refused to leave but incident was quickly dealt with.

Mancini said: "It (the tackle) was two red cards probably, if the referee was there.

"I wanted him to leave the pitch and Mario said, 'No, I don't want to leave'. But it is finished now.

"The problem we have on that pitch is that we don't have a screen. We are happy for the paparazzi to get money for this!

"These things can happen at every club and every team. The other teams have screens around their pitch and we don't have a screen."

When asked how these issues might affect other players in the squad, Mancini said: "I don't know this.

"What I hope every day is that he changes his mind and thinks about his job and his life."