Mario Balotelli
Manchester City's Mario Balotelli

The Mancini-Balotelli bond seems to have finally cracked!

Troubled Italian striker Mario Balotelli has a long history of disciplinary problems and ill-advised displays of petulant behaviour, both on and off the pitch. However, since his transfer to Manchester City in 2010, the calming presence of the club's Italian manager, Roberto Mancini, seemed to go a long way towards establishing a sense of responsibility and maturity. At one stage the youngster had actually admitted, in an earlier IBTimes UK report, he needed to "grow up".

Now, however, a report in The Telegraph has suggested that even Mancini's patience has worn thin. This follows an earlier IBTimes UK report that quoted Mancini as saying he "could not trust Balotelli" anymore. Indeed, the fact that the striker started the game against Sunderland was only because of the injury to Aguero and the lack of match fitness for Tevez.

City played Sunderland in an absolutely crucial league game on Saturday evening; the Citizens, in a race for the Premier League crown with local rivals Manchester United, needed to win this game in order to put even a modicum of pressure on United.

Apparently, Balotelli's performance in the first ten minutes so enraged Mancini that the manager admitted he actually considered substituting him within the opening five minutes!

"We had only Carlos [Tévez] on the bench. I thought about this after five minutes. In the end he scored two goals but..." said Mancini, when asked the question in the aftermath of the match.

"He didn't play well," Mancini added, "In a game like this the striker should be the difference. Not in the last two or three minutes but before. In the first half we should have scored two or three. Mario and [Edin] Dzeko should have scored two or three goals in a game like this."

Mancini was further angered by Balotelli's arguing with left back Aleksandr Kolarov, while the team was 1-3 down, over who should take a free kick. Balotelli was apparently so incensed that club captain Vincent Kompany had to intervene and drag Balotelli away.

"It can happen in a moment like today," Mancini said, before adding, "But this is the last time."

It is important to remember, at this point, that City have not officially listed Balotelli as available for transfer. However, club sources have reportedly confirmed the management will listen to "serious" offers.