Mancini plays down Balotelli row
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has laughed off the latest controversy surrounding fiery striker Mario Balotelli.
The Italy forward was involved in a training ground bust-up with Micah Richards on Thursday. It was the fourth time Balotelli has been pictured fighting with team-mates, contributing to a chequered history at City, which also includes three red cards and, most recently, attempts to release fireworks from inside his Cheshire home, which required the fire brigade to be called out.
"I ask him 'why always you?'" said Mancini, a reference to the 'why always me' T-shirt Balotelli revealed after scoring in the 6-1 thrashing of Manchester United at Old Trafford in October.
"He said it was because he didn't pass the ball to him. It was a really stupid thing. It was nothing. After 10 minutes it was finished.
"I was always involved in problems on the training ground, with Trevor Francis and Liam Brady (at Sampdoria). It happens. When you play a match eight versus eight and you are passionate, it can happen with every team. Not every week, but often.
"Mario and Micah were boxing, but they are like twins. They are very good friends. This has happened with Mario four times now. He is the king for this. But it has happened with other players.
"However, Mario should pay attention, not just about this, but in every situation. We are near Christmas, at the end of the year it is very dangerous time for fireworks. It is better he stays in the hotel."
Meanwhile, Mancini has confirmed he has requested that Yaya Toure does not join up with the Ivory Coast African Nations' Cup squad until after the Premier League trip to Wigan, presently scheduled for January 16, the week before the tournament starts.
"We hope he can remain here until Wigan if it is possible," he said.
"Wigan is one week before the start of the tournament. If he gets to the final, he and Kolo (Toure) will come back on February 12. For us it is a problem. I think if we are on the top when Yaya and Kolo come back, we can win the title."