Samir Nasri arguably gave his best performance for Manchester City in yesterday’s 4-1 win over Manchester United. As such, City fans may start to believe that the Frenchman who signed from Arsenal for £25 million in 2011 is capable of fulfilling his undoubted potential.
There were excellent performances all over the pitch from City in the Derby: Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero were all immense to name but a few. Nasri’s performance, however, was even more notable because of the distinct lack of quality he has shown since his arrival at City.
He has been little more than a passenger in the two years he has been at the club and it is a struggle to think of even a handful of good performances from him. His debut in the 5-1 against Tottenham was probably the best he has played, until yesterday. In between, the occasional moment of class is all that stood out from a player who has been largely ineffective and frequently goes missing.
In April, Roberto Mancini, vented his frustration with Nasri’s consistent lack of quality after his finally put in a good performance against Newcastle, He said:
I would like to give him a punch, because a player like him should play like this always. Every game. Maybe one game sometimes he can play badly…I can’t understand how a player with his quality doesn’t play like today every game.
Despite sounding slightly forthright Mancini’s sentiment was echoed by the majority of City supporters who had also grown tired of Nasri’s underperformance. To his credit, Nasri later acknowledged that despite not getting along with Mancini the criticism worked as he got a lot better for the remainder of the season. He said:
I understand what the manager was saying, because it must be frustrating when you have a quality player and he doesn’t perform and you don’t know why because you try to play him there, play him there, but he still doesn’t perform. So at some point you have no choice but to put him on the bench and you go to the press to try to get a reaction. And it worked.
With the arrival of Manuel Pellegrini it seems that a number of players who were almost certainly heading for the exit, like Nasri, have been revitalised. He has publicly expressed his satisfaction with Pellegrini’s methods on a number of occasions and his happiness off the field seems to be paying dividends.
Yesterday, Nasri was a constant attacking threat for City. Playing predominantly on the left but with license to cut inside he caused havoc for United right-back Chris Smalling and partnered Aleks Kolarov to great effect. He was key in the build up for the first goal and deservedly found the back of the net to kill the game just after half time with the fourth goal.
Whether his recent performances are a flash in the pan remains to be seen but all the signs suggest Nasri is on an upward trajectory. If he can maintain his performance levels this season and alleviate the pressure on David Silva to be creative, City will have a hell of player on their hands.
Written by Robert Toole