Mancini plays down latest clash with Balotelli

LONDON Fri Jan 4, 2013 6:33pm IST

Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini (C) arrives for a training session at the Carrington training facility in Manchester, northern England, January 4, 2013. REUTERS/Darren Staples

Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini (C) arrives for a training session at the Carrington training facility in Manchester, northern England, January 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Staples

LONDON (Reuters) - Despite photographs of Roberto Mancini's latest clash with Mario Balotelli featuring on the front pages of Britain's tabloid newspapers on Friday, the Manchester City manager does not believe the relationship between the two Italians is at breaking point.

Mancini was labelled "Madcini" in The Sun next to a photo of him grappling with Balotelli in training on Thursday while most papers reached the conclusion that Balotelli's troubled time at the English champions was up.

Yet Mancini played down the training ground incident on Friday, saying reaction to it had been overblown.

"Mario made a tackle on his team mate that I would prefer to see in a game and not against a team mate," Mancini told reporters. "I asked him to leave the pitch - he said no so I moved him off.

"That's all that happened and it was nothing more than that."

Last month Balotelli withdrew his appeal against disciplinary action taken against him by the Premier League champions, accepting a fine of two weeks' wages for a series of well-documented misdemeanours on and off the pitch last season.

However, harmony still appears to be in short supply with Mancini again being asked whether the Italy international still has a future at the club.

"Nothing has changed between Mario and me and my thoughts have not changed about him and these things happen from time to time," he said.

"Will Mario have more chances? I will give him 100 chances as long as I can see him trying to improve and working hard for this football club."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by John Mehaffey)

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