Roberto Mancini has insisted he will not give up on Mario Balotelli and sell the controversial striker this summer – but admits he wants him to ‘improve quickly’ or face the chop.
Balotelli endured a controversial week as he was first forced to train on his own following a fall-out with Mancini, before his effort's were criticised despite the fact he scored twice as City came from 3-1 down to claim a point against Sunderland on Saturday which handed Manchester United the advantage in the title race.
The former Inter Milan striker also argued with Aleksandar Kolarov over the right to take a free-kick during the game and also allegedly fell out with Yaya Toure in the aftermath at the Etihad Stadium.
The pair’s relationship appeared to be on the verge of breaking after Mancini admitted that he couldn’t trust the striker last week while rumours circulated following the draw against Sunderland that he could be sold at the end of the season.
However, the City boss maintains that Balotelli has a future at the Etihad Stadium, but did admit he was ‘frustrated’ with the temperamental forward's antics.
Asked if he was ready to give up on Balotelli, Mancini told Sky Sports: “No.
"I am frustrated because sometimes I think it is not possible that a player with his class and his technique can play a game like this.
"I think he is young and I hope for him he can improve very quickly for his future.
"A player like Mario in the Premier League should score one or two goals every game."
Mancini was particularly aggrieved at Balotelli’s attempts to wrestle the ball from Kolarov in order to take a free-kick in the second half, which resulted in club captain Vincent Kompany stepping in to lead the Italian away.
"This was a bad moment," Mancini admitted.
"I think a professional player can't do what they did in that moment, when we were losing 3-1."
The two points dropped against Sunderland could prove costly to City in the title race but Mancini maintains that his players will not be throwing in the towel.
He said: "We should be strong, I believe always.
"The message is always the same - we will do everything to win this title."