Roberto Mancini refused to apologise for waving an imaginary red card once again on Monday night as Manchester City beat Wigan Athletic. The City manager claimed he was merely copying Wayne Rooney in demanding the dismissal of Maynor Figueroa for deliberate handball and that his gesture was not as bad as the Manchester United striker's call for a red card for Vincent Kompany in their recent FA Cup defeat.
City recorded their first win in three matches courtesy of Edin Dzeko's headed goal and a fraught finale was encapsulated by the reaction of their bench when Figueroa deliberately handled Nigel de Jong's through-ball towards Sergio Agüero in the 88th minute. Agüero would have been clean through without the defender's illegal intervention just inside the City half and Martin Atkinson's decision to issue only a yellow card prompted a furious reaction from Mancini and his assistant, David Platt, who both ran to the fourth official waving imaginary cards.
Mancini apologised for an identical act when Martin Skrtel tripped Yaya Touré during City's 3-0 league defeat of Liverpool two weeks ago, having vowed never to do it again following a previous episode. He then condemned Rooney for urging Chris Foy to dismiss Kompany for a two-footed tackle on Nani in the FA Cup third round and was involved in an exchange with Steven Gerrard after saying Glen Johnson deserved to be sent off in Liverpool's Carling Cup semi-final win last week.
The City manager's latest dispute prompted Rooney to say on Twitter: "Was manchini [sic] asking for a red card????" And Mancini, having initially refused to discuss the subject or apologise, responded: "I used to do this but I don't want to say anything. I did it because Wayne Rooney did this. It is normal with a chance like that to do it."
Asked if he was therefore wrong to condemn Rooney for a similar response at the Etihad Stadium, Mancini said: "Yes, but I am on the bench. It's different. When you are a player very near to the referee you can have more of an influence. I am on the bench and the referee cannot see me."
Wigan's manager, Roberto Martínez, however, believes the Italian should know such actions will be condemned in the Premier League. "I've been here long enough to understand that trying to influence the referee is not accepted in the British game," he said. "When a player tries to simulate or buy a decision from the referee that is regarded as cheating. I understand that in Italy, France and Spain it is acceptable to try and get a decision from the referee, but it is different here."
Martínez added: said: "I don't think it's a goalscoring opportunity. James McCarthy was coming back and Maynor wasn't even in his own half. I don't think it's a red card."
As for the game itself, Mancini insisted he had no concerns over the standard of City's performance and was only interested in maximum points. The City manager said: "It was important to win. We had three or four chances to score in the second half. Wigan are a very good team with a fantastic manager and they are dangerous at home. At this moment it is important to take three points. This month it is important to take maximum points from every game."