Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini understands why team-mates could be frustrated with Mario Balotelli - and claims he might have punched him were he a player.

Mancini has voiced his frustration with the mercurial forward, who continues to command headlines for his actions on and off the field, on numerous occasions this season.

The City boss remains determined to get the best out of the controversial 21-year-old - who walked away unhurt from a car crash on Thursday - but admits he could see why others might be weary of him.

Mancini said: "I can understand it. I told him, 'If you played with me, 10 years ago, I give to you every day one punch in your head!'

"I think in every big game he played very well. I think his problem is his concentration but I work with him every day.

"I speak with him - not every day because if not I need a psychologist - but every two days I speak with him. He doesn't lose his quality.

"Mario, as a player, can be one of the top in Europe. I don't want him to lose his talent."

Balotelli was again in the news after an incident in Manchester city centre in which his car was involved in a collision with another vehicle.

The Italian, who drives a Bentley, was not understood to have been hurt but police confirmed a passenger from one of the vehicles was taken to hospital as a precaution.

That was merely the latest incident in an eventful past fortnight for Balotelli which began with an unexpected appearance at an Inter Milan press conference.

That was followed by a training ground spat with Mancini and a performance against Sunderland which, despite including two goals, was heavily criticised by the manager.

Mancini said he considered substituting the player after only five minutes of the 3-3 Barclays Premier League draw at the Etihad Stadium.

Balotelli also argued with Aleksandar Kolarov over who should take a free-kick in the same game.

There have been further stories about his private life in the newspapers but Mancini believes events are being blown out of proportion because of who they concern.

Mancini said: "Every time Mario does something, (it) is like a war.
"There are other people on and off the pitch that do worse than Mario and no-one says anything because maybe they play for an important team or are not like Mario."

City, who trail leaders Manchester United by five points, return to action at Arsenal on Sunday and Mancini admits the title race could be over if they lose.

When asked if that might be the case, he said: "If we lose against Arsenal and they [United] beat QPR - yes."