ROBERTO MANCINI HITS OUT AT REFEREES
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has claimed "the rules are not the same for everyone" while voicing frustration at the standard of English refereeing.
Mancini did not want to comment on specific incidents but City's title rivals Manchester United have benefited from two controversial penalty decisions in the past fortnight.
City, who trail United by five points at the top of the Barclays Premier League, also felt wronged when Carlos Tevez was booked for diving instead of being awarded a penalty against Norwich last week.
Mancini has said, with four games remaining, his side's title hopes are over and he still feels that way despite some of his players expressing a different opinion.
When asked his thoughts on some of those players' remarks, Mancini said: "I am happy because they believe but, for me, I (still) have the same feeling. I think it is very difficult. Also after some of the situations I saw in the last three or four weeks, I think it is really difficult for us."
When asked if he was referring to refereeing decisions involving City or United, he said: "Both."
Mancini, at a press conference to preview Sunday's game at Wolves, was then asked to elaborate.
He said: "I can say it is a very strange situation, only this. For us it is important to finish well this season. We want to try to win the next game. That will be difficult. Wolves are bottom of the table and it will be a tough game. We need to play like against Norwich."
When asked to expand again about these "situations", Mancini said: "I am not frustrated. In Italy we say, 'Every place is the same'."
Asked what that meant, he said: "The rules are not the same for everyone."
Mancini was then asked if he was suggesting the rules are being applied differently for City and United.
He said: "I am not saying this, I don't want to say this. I said the rules, maybe sometimes, are different. When I was in Italy I always thought here there were the best referees. My idea has changed, probably."
City fell eight points behind United after losing at Arsenal a month ago but, despite the cutting of that deficit by three and a Manchester derby still to come, Mancini continues to protest the title race is over.
He said: "I think it always better to have everything under control. For this I want to say it is better to stay very close with the other teams at the top.
"Five points are too much and, I repeat, there are some strange situations that I do not like - we don't have any chance. We should go our way, only this. I stay with my opinion for the next four weeks - I don't change. The title is gone."
The defeat at the Emirates Stadium was preceded by frustrating draws against Stoke and Sunderland, which top scorer Sergio Aguero missed with an ankle injury exacerbated by a treatment spray.
Having been just a point behind prior to the Stoke game, Mancini feels those results possibly marked the turning point for a side that had led the table for most of the campaign.
The Italian said: "I think there are some moments in the season that you can do some mistakes.
"We did some mistakes but when we lost Sergio for those two games I think that was a key moment because we did two draws. I think with Sergio we would have had a chance."
Mancini will wait until the end of the season before making a decision about the future of controversial striker Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli has made peace with Mancini since the sending off at Arsenal which prompted the manager to say he would "probably" try to sell the player.
With that merely being the latest in a long line of misdemeanours from the 21-year-old, Mancini has since said Balotelli could stay if he changes his ways - but that is not an issue he will address yet.
He said: "Mario is a City player, 100%. Mario is a top player. At the end of the season we will see what happens."
Latest Football News at 12:00 BST