Samir Nasri: It's Time Mancini Gave Up On Manchester City's "Half-A-Man" After He Gifted Manchester United Three Points
For the best part of a decade, the term “Two and a Half Men” has referred to an extremely unfunny sitcom starring one of the most irritating individuals on television.
Some would say that Manchester City and Samir Nasri tick those very same boxes, and the correlation was as close as ever yesterday when the Frenchman cowardly ducked as part of the wall lined up to face Robin van Persie’s last minute free kick.
City boss Roberto Mancini pulled no punches in his post-match press conference when he alluded to Nasri’s part in Manchester United’s winner.
"In the last free-kick, we put only three players there," he said. "Were there three? We had two and a half. We didn't cover very well."
While there were a number of factors which led to the free kick in the first place, including Gael Clichy’s failure to play a simple pass back to Joe Hart and Carlos Tevez’s trip on Rafael, there is simply no excusing Nasri’s attempt to hide behind Edin Dzeko in the wall.
In some ways it summed up Nasri as a player – looking out for number one and unwilling to put himself on the line for his team.
The biggest problem I have with Nasri is his unwillingness to do any defensive work. Against Everton last weekend he attempted one tackle, and failed with it, while against United he didn’t bother to do even that much.
Given that City play with no natural wingers, the full backs are regularly overloaded and exposed. When Everton took the lead at the Etihad Stadium, it was as a direct result of Leighton Baines being given the freedom of the left wing to get his head up and deliver and great ball in to Marouane Fellaini.
A natural winger would have been in the position to cover that; instead the closest City player to Baines was Gareth Barry.
Of course Mancini needs to take some of the blame for that as he picks the team, but the wide attacker role in the system still comes with a responsibility to nullify the opposition full backs.
You could possibly excuse Nasri’s defensive frailties if he was contributing strongly at the other end of the pitch, but 31 passes in 90 minutes against Manchester United (less than any other outfield City player who completed 90 minutes) simply isn’t effective enough.
One could even make a case for him being a ‘flat track bully’, only stepping up in games against inferior opposition where there is less pressure - against Aston Villa in the comfortable 5-0 win last month, he attempted 92 passes, almost three times as many as in the derby.
It’s disappointing because the season started well for Nasri with a goal and an assist on the opening day against Southampton (more weight to the flat track bully argument) but since then he has set up just one goal, in that aforementioned Villa game, in ten league appearances.
Apart from Chelsea away last season when he bagged the winner, it’s hard to remember a game when he has shown anything like the form which had him light up The Emirates for the first few months of the 2010/11 season.
Indeed, he finished that campaign averaging a goal every three league games which prompted Manchester City to shell out somewhere in the region of £25 million to secure his services.
With a big price tag there naturally comes big expectations but Nasri has simply failed to deliver since joining in August 2011, and his latest shirking of responsibility will only serve to further build a case for the prosecution.
At 25, Nasri still has plenty of time on his hands, though whether he continues to get the opportunities at Manchester City remains to be seen.