Italian wants to reserve any sanctions for fellow countryman's behaviour after FA Cup semi-final win over rivals Manchester United and says final could be even harder
Roberto Mancini declared that he will wait before passing judgement on Mario Balotelli for his post-match antics at Wembley.
The erratic Italian celebrated Manchester City’s 1-0 victory by thrusting his shirt at Manchester United supporters before appearing to wink at his opponents.
Rio Ferdinand and Anderson took particular exception to Balotelli’s behaviour and the striker had to be dragged away by some of his team-mates and the City backroom staff.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Mancini was aware there had been an incident but wanted to reserve judgement.
“Every time it’s Balotelli’s fault but I want to wait,” he said. “I didn’t see what happened so it’s difficult to say.”
When told what Balotelli was alleged to have done, the City manager said sarcastically: “We can put him in jail? Next week we can put him in jail for this.”
It was a blot on what had otherwise been a perfect afternoon for City, who have reached the FA Cup final for the first time since 1981 and moved within one victory of winning their first silverware in 35 years.
Mancini said: “United played very well in the first 25 minutes. They had good chances to score. After that we deserved to win the game.
“It’s difficult to play against Manchester United. They are some team, not an easy team. They are used to playing this game every year. For us, it’s the first time after a long time.”
Mancini refused to get carried away with a rare success over City’s bitter rivals but believes it can be the catalyst for even greater things at City of Manchester Stadium.
He said: “Today we have only won the semi-final. I’m very happy for the supporters. They have never had a day like this afternoon but for us it’s important we forget. We still have to play another game. Probably the final will be harder than this.
“Today, for me, was important. I would like to win this cup for the club, the supporters and all the people who work at Manchester City. We beat United in an important game but I don’t want, ‘Ah, we beat United but it’s finished’.”
“I believe that for us it’s important to start to win the first trophies. If we win the FA Cup, next year we can win the [league] title.”
Yet City are still not certain to claim a top four spot in the Premier League and face a battle with Tottenham for the coveted final Champions League place.
“We want both,” said Mancini. “We deserve to play in the Champions League. For one year we have been between first and fourth spot. Tottenham is close but everything is in our hands."