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Stand off

ROBERTO Mancini is stuck in a stand-off with Mario Balotelli (left), the player who could ultimately cost him his job at the Etihad.

Furious Mancini (right) grappled with Balotelli after a training ground incident yesterday, the latest in a series of clashes involving team-mates and coaching staff.

The admission this week that Balotelli will not be sold because Manchester City owner Shiekh Mansour 'likes' him, leaves Mancini between a rock and a hard place.

Any 'him or me' threat may well fall on deaf ears in the Manchester City Boardroom.

Mancini's problems were further complicated by the fact that even if Mansour decided to back his manager and offload Balotelli, AC Milan have ruled out a possible move to the San Siro for the troubled striker, who has been receiving counselling from the Manchester club chaplain in recent weeks.

Up to now, Mancini has defended the player but Balotelli has clearly crossed a line which cannot be re-drawn.