Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini launched a scathing attack on Micah Richards' first appearance for the club in over five months by suggesting that the returning right back needs to work harder.
As reported by Goal.com on Monday, the defender came in to replace Pablo Zabaleta for Wednesday's late 1-0 win over Wigan but his boss could not hide his disappointment in the 24-year-old's performance.
"I think that he needs to work a lot," Mancini remarked to reporters of Richards. "I didn't like it [the performance]. "I am happy because he comes back to play but I thought that he was in better form.
"After six months, though, it is impossible to play well for 70 minutes. He was tired but it is important that he came back to play."
The Italian conceded, howeer, that it was crucial to allow Zabaleta to refresh his batteries after a prolonged spell in the side while Richards was unavailable, explaining: "Pablo has played a lot of games, it was important to give him a break."
With only three days having passed since their tense FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea, Mancini felt that his players suffered from fatigue against the Latics.
"We had to work really hard because Wigan played very well," he observed. "Every game that we play against them is difficult because they play football and they play to win every game.
"I think we didn't play very well because we were so tired. Only in the last 20-25 minutes we improved and played better.
"There's only three days and for this reason we play with the four, five new players because we spent a lot of energy against Chelsea and it was difficult."
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- Pablo Zabaleta