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The Crazy Gang

Balotelli clashes with team-mates as Blues crack under pressure

MANCHESTER City have been plunged into further turmoil after it emerged that controversial striker Mario Balotelli was involved in a dressing-room confrontation with Yaya Toure after Saturday's 3-3 draw with Sunderland.

Roberto Mancini also conceded that City's title bid could be “finished” if United win their next two games.

“If we go eight points behind, then it is finished,” Mancini said. “This is normal. But United will draw at Blackburn. Do you want to bet with me? This is my opinion.

“We have 71 points with seven games left and I think we should (continue) to believe in ourselves at this moment because we will have time for the other things.”

Erratic

Mancini’s problems are being compounded by Balotelli’s behaviour.

Subjected to strong criticism by Mancini following the game, despite scoring twice, Balotelli is understood to have been involved in a row with Yaya Toure before being ushered away by his brother, Kolo.

The erratic Italian forward also clashed with Yaya following the defeat at Swansea in March, and has previously been involved in training ground fights with Jerome Boateng and Micah Richards.

The 21-year-old’s conduct could see him depart the Etihad Stadium this summer, with the club prepared to listen to offers from rival outfits if he fails to eradicate signs of immaturity and his apparent ignorance of authority.

“Mario played like I said about him before the game,” Mancini said. “He can do nothing, like he did today for 70 minutes, but then score two goals. I don't like it when he plays like this.

Lethargic

“Mario has everything to do his job well but he doesn't understand very well his situation. In a game like this, the striker should be the difference. Not in the last two or three minutes, but before.

“Mario and (Edin) Dzeko should have scored two or three goals in a game like this.”

When asked if he had considered substituting Balotelli, Mancini said: “We had only Carlos (Tevez) on the bench. I thought about this after five minutes.”

With just two wins in their last six games, the initiative now lies firmly with United. Alex Ferguson's squad travel to Blackburn tonight and then face Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford on Sunday lunchtime, three hours before City play Arsenal at the Emirates, with Mancini hoping for an unlikely slip-up from United at Ewood Park.

He admitted City's performance was lethargic and believes his side are suffering from fatigue. “We were really flat in the first half,” he said.

“But I think we have improved from last season and it is clear we want to win the title. We will fight until the derby (on April 30) because I think that game will decide our season. Now we are in a difficult moment, but football can change in two or three games.”

Vincent Kompany insisted the City squad was not being affected by nerves but admitted their title destiny was out of their hands.

“There's no-one in this team who hasn't been in this situation before in another league,” he said. “The reality is that it is not in our hands any more, so we'll need other teams to take points off United.”


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