x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Mancini goes firefighting again after another Balotelli ruckus

Premier League previews: Coach warns the striker over a fight with Micah Richards during training but puts it to down to passion.

Balotelli is the "king of controversies" and lets his feelings known in public glare.
Balotelli is the "king of controversies" and lets his feelings known in public glare.

Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, yesterday played down a training clash between Mario Balotelli and Micah Richards, but urged Balotelli, the "king" of controversy, to keep the volatile side of his nature in check.

Balotelli, who wore a T-shirt saying "Why always me?" in October's 6-1 win at Manchester United after a string of on- and off-field antics, was in the headlines again as newspapers published photographs of a bust-up with Richards.

At a news conference ahead of tomorrow's visit by Arsenal, Mancinci revealed that he asked Balotelli: "Why always you?" He said that Balotelli responded: "Because he didn't pass the ball to me."

Added Mancini: "But that was a really stupid thing, for nothing, but after 10 minutes it was finished. It was nothing, nothing special, this happens in every sport sometimes when you play a little match."

City are particularly vulnerable to photographs being taken during practice sessions because their Carrington training facility is next to a public footpath that provides an excellent vantage point.

Balotelli has provided plenty of photo opportunities since joining the club in August 2010, including clashes with the captain Vincent Kompany and the former City defender Jerome Boateng.

Mancini said it was only to be expected in an environment where emotions run high. Asked if he had been involved in similar incidents in his playing days, he said: "Always! When you play a football match eight against eight, and you put passion in this match sometimes it can happen. Not every week, but often. Mario and Micah are very good friends.

"He is the king for this," he added about his fellow Italian. "I think Mario should pay attention, but not only in this situation."

Mancini also saw the funny side of his striker's apparent magnetism for trouble, giving the player - who infamously set fire to his house by letting off fireworks indoors and leading him to have to move into a hotel - a word of warning ahead of the festive season.

"Now because we are near Christmas and [New Year], it is very dangerous with the fire, it is better if he stays in the hotel."

Meanwhile, Umberto Gandini, the AC Milan director, speaking at yesterday's Champions League and Europa League draw, said the Italian club had made an offer to City for striker Carlos Tevez.

"City are considering that," he said. "Tevez has expressed his interest, other clubs are interested and now we wait. There is an opportunity, we are bidding, we think the player has a desire to join AC Milan but it is up to City to decide."

Brian Marwood, City's football administrator, also replied: "Our position hasn't changed. Milan came to us with a loan option which we rejected. Clearly Milan have decided to conduct their business through the media; that is something we decide not to do."

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Martin O'Neill, the new Sunderland manager, was left facing a decision over Lee Cattermole and Nicklas Bendtner after it emerged that they had been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage. Police confirmed that Cattermole, the captain, and the on-loan striker Bendtner, both 23, were bailed after being arrested in connection with an incident in Newcastle in which cars were damaged on December 6.

* Agencies

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