Manchester City Coach Mancini Downplays Clash With Balotelli

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says his training ground altercation with Mario Balotelli won’t influence the Italian striker’s future with the Premier League champion.

Photographs published yesterday showed Mancini, 48, and Balotelli being separated by coaches and players during practice. Mancini was shown grabbing the 22-year-old player’s jersey.

“I think the photos show the worst of what happened,” Mancini told reporters today. “It was nothing special. There was no fight, this was not true.”

The City manager confirmed reports in the Manchester Evening News and other newspapers saying the incident was sparked by a late tackle by Balotelli on a teammate.

“I said to him, ‘Go inside, leave the pitch.’ He said no and I took his shirt and pushed him out of the pitch,” Mancini said. Balotelli hasn’t commented on the incident.

The player’s future at City had been the subject of speculation even before the clash following other controversies since his transfer from Inter Milan in 2010. Mancini said his thoughts about Balotelli “do not change”.

Balotelli hasn’t played for the team since being substituted seven minutes after halftime in the 3-2 home defeat to Premier League leader Manchester United on Dec. 9.

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