Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini claimed he might have substituted striker Mario Balotelli after just five minutes of his side's frustrating draw with Sunderland.
The enigmatic Balotelli may have scored twice but Mancini was frustrated by his fellow Italian's performance as City surrendered two potentially vital points in the title race. It has been another eventful week for Balotelli, who turned up unannounced at an Inter Milan press conference on Monday and Mancini said he could not be trusted.
When asked if he thought about taking Balotelli off, Mancini said: "I thought this after five minutes but in the end he scored two goals."
He added: "He didn't play well. In a game like this the strikers should be the difference - but not in the last two minutes, in the minutes before.
"A player like Mario or (Edin) Dzeko should score two or three goals in a game like this. In this moment we need Carlos (Tevez), a striker who can do different. I want this."
Rivals Manchester United could now move five points clear at the top on Monday and the situation might have been worse for City had they not hit back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with two late goals.
Balotelli equalised for City from the penalty spot in the first half but later showed frustration when he appeared to argue with Aleksandar Kolarov over who should line up a free-kick with Tevez.
Mancini said: "On the ball it should be Mario and Ali - after they decide who shoots. But it can happen in a moment, things like this. It is the last time."
Tevez is still not fit enough to start and was again on the bench while top scorer Sergio Aguero was missing with a mystery foot injury. Mancini again refused to elaborate on the nature of the Argentinian's problem, although he said some theories in the newspapers are "not true".
He said: "We missed Aguero and for this reason I am disappointed. I hope he can recover for the next game."