Mancini fumes over Balotelli red
Roberto Mancini believes it is vital Manchester City are going into Wednesday's derby clash with Manchester United having returned to form - and hopes their match-winner on Sunday Mario Balotelli might be available for the Eastlands encounter.
Balotelli eased some of the pressure on his manager by netting twice in the first half against West Brom at the Hawthorns as City secured a 2-0 victory to halt their run of three successive defeats. But the 20-year-old's afternoon turned sour after the break as he was then given his marching orders following a tangle with Youssouf Mulumbu - who was also dismissed late on for scything down Carlos Tevez.
Rejecting suggestions Balotelli had kicked out at Mulumbu, Mancini said: "I absolutely do not agree with the referee about this sending-off."
Mancini intends to appeal against the decision by referee Lee Probert. That opens up the possibility of the striker being cleared in time to face second-placed United who City, in fourth spot, are now once again only three points behind in the Barclays Premier League.
He added: "A red card for what? He played a fantastic game, he scored two goals, but the sending-off was very strange.
"I want to know why it was a direct red card. For me this is not correct and the referee must explain."
City were in second place behind leaders Chelsea before suffering a slump in results, and asked how significant he thought it was for his side to have got back to winning ways before the derby, Mancini said: "It is important because we are in a good position. We have this game (against United) and we can get to second position again."
West Brom have now picked up three red cards in the space of a week after they were reduced to nine men at Blackpool last Monday.
While Pablo Ibanez's was rescinded following an appeal, Baggies boss Roberto Di Matteo had no complaints about the decision to send Gonzalo Jara off in that match and was similarly accepting that Mulumbu deserved to go against City - although he also felt there was nothing wrong with Balotelli's dismissal.
"I think the referee was in a good position on the (Balotelli) sending-off," Di Matteo said. "My player wasn't happy with the challenge and the official was there. In terms of the second one, for my player, I think there was no doubt about it."