Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

NASRI CAN GO BACK FROM ZERO TO A HERO ; Tussles with United Tend to Bring out Best and Worst in Blues Midfielder

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

NASRI CAN GO BACK FROM ZERO TO A HERO ; Tussles with United Tend to Bring out Best and Worst in Blues Midfielder

Article excerpt

THE Manchester derby has seen the best - and the worst - of Samir Nasri.

But, as the Blues go in search of a club record fifth consecutive win in the local tussle, the enigmatic French star is again standing at a crossroads in his career.

Nasri's stock was probably at its lowest point of his club career when, in December 2012, he "bottled it" in a defensive wall, and Robin van Persie's free kick span off his tentative leg and curved into the far corner to hand United a 3-2 win - their last in a derby.

Manager Roberto Mancini was furious, giving the player a rocket and saying publicly: "Someone asked how many people were in the wall? Three? I said, no, two-and-a-half because Samir turned when he shot."

His form, and his relationship with Mancini, became fractious - even when he had a glorious game, in a 4-0 win over Newcastle, Mancini said the inconsistency sometimes made him want to punch Nasri.

It was a playful comment, but Nasri was unimpressed, saying it was an expression of the manager's "bad faith" in him. Nasri became a peripheral, long-faced figure for the rest of that season, showing glimpses of his audacious talent but seemingly heading through the exit door in the Etihad Stadium.

But when it was Mancini who got the high jump, and new man Manuel Pellegrini walked through the door, and gave him a sound pep talk, everything changed.

Nasri stopped listening to fawning sycophants, and spiteful nay- sayers, and had heart-to-heart conversations with trusted friends and family.

He recognised he had been self-absorbed - "I can be an arrogant little jerk" he said - and that was causing his club career to go the same way as his international one, after he was banned by France, and then exiled, after an unsavoury, verbal attack on a journalist at Euro 2012.

Nasri's re-birth as a City player began under Pellegrini, and was heralded by a mercurial display in the 4-1 drubbing of the Reds at the Etihad last season, creating the first goal with a smart backheel for Aleks Kolarov, who teed up Sergio Aguero, and scoring the last. …

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