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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Balotelli urges City to keep faith in Mancini

Mario Balotelli believes Manchester City would be making a major mistake if they sack manager Roberto Mancini.

• Papers: City seek Manuel drive
• Kolo: Mancini's job depends on cup

Balotelli left City for AC Milan in January as Mancini grew frustrated with the striker's failure to realise his potential amid persistent off-field distractions.

Nonetheless, Balotelli has stressed his affection for Mancini on multiple occasions since departing and, amid reports the former Inter Milan coach is to be dismissed in the summer, the 22-year-old has defended his compatriot.

"There is nobody better for City," he is quoted as saying in The Sun. "Most importantly, the players like him. If you asked who they want next season, every single player would say Roberto. He's not just their coach but also their friend."

Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini has been linked with the post, with Mancini tipped to be sacked after City fell off the pace in the Premier League and failed to negotiate a way through the Champions League group stage for a second successive season.

Balotelli, though, has pointed to the fact Mancini ended City's 35-year trophy drought with the 2011 FA Cup and then steered the team to the league title last season.

He added: "Look at the success Roberto has had - the FA Cup and a first championship in over 40 years. Even Alex Ferguson does not win a trophy every year, but he always comes back."

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