Adam Johnson has revealed he was barely on speaking terms with manager Roberto Mancini before he left Manchester City for Sunderland.
Johnson hopes to rekindle his passion for the game following a £10m move last week, after admitting that his at times strained relationship with the City manager weighed heavily towards the end of a turbulent two and a half years with the Premier League champions.
Johnson ran a gamut of emotions in earning top flight and FA Cup medals under Mancini, who would regularly drop the winger without explanation while being critical of his performances and attitude.
The pair's final conversation came after Johnson was left out of the season opener against Southampton, and he revealed: "The manager understood I wanted to play football and he said, 'If we can get a good solution, we'll let you go.' That's probably the best bit of advice he gave me."
Johnson is confident his return to the North-east will help him cement a place in the England side, after his international hopes suffered as a result of limited opportunities under Mancini, culminating in missing out on Roy Hodgson's European Championship squad. He added: "I was disappointed I didn't play more at City. I felt I could have given a lot more, but it didn't work out.
"Was I given reasons? Not really, we didn't really speak." Asked if Mancini was overcritical, Johnson added: "All the lads there would say that. That is how he was with certain players. It was difficult."