City must take full advantage of Anfield miracle, says Nasri

With Pellegrini’s side back in pole position, French star stresses there is no place to hide

There are plenty of people at Manchester City who dare not hope for too much, heading into this potentially defining weekend. Not just because City are a “strange” team – as Gary Neville put it in an analysis which every other Liverpool fan has been quoting since Sunday to anyone who will listen. But because they have never quite shaken off what Joe Royle – who always kept a drinks coaster designed as a panic button (“press here”) – called “City-itis”.

It is that capacity to implode, still in evidence two years ago on the day they conspired to turn a regulation 1-0 half-time lead over Queen’s Park Rangers into a near disaster before winning the Premier League title. Samir Nasri has this week been remembering the occasion, citing the experience of it as “crucial” and drawing parallels between Manchester United’s fateful 4-4 draw with Everton that spring and Liverpool’s defeat to Chelsea a week ago that has put the title back in City’s hands. But their dropped points against Sunderland 17 days ago demonstrate how few certainties there are here.

The club is still looking for empirical evidence that Manuel Pellegrini can experience something other than what Steve Coppell felt after half a dozen games in charge 18 years ago. “Manchester City are making me ill,” he complained, before leaving.

Nasri, one of the players reborn under Pellegrini’s management, articulated City’s sense that they have been brought back from the dead by Chelsea’s win at Anfield. “We have to understand that now we are in this position. It’s a miracle,” he said, wondering aloud whether any side had won the Premier League on goal difference twice. (No, they haven’t). It is actually hard to know where City’s motivation is coming from because Pellegrini communicates so little, though the club could certainly draw on the fact that they still seem so unloved.

A prevailing emotion at City is one of mild indignation about how the national football conversation, beyond their own fanbase, has not accounted for the fact that Pellegrini, as much as Jose Mourinho, has been in transition these past nine months. While Mourinho has managed to use his press conferences to project things as a work-in-progress,  the assumption has been that Pellegrini, new to the Premier League, should have delivered from the off.

David Silva’s return from injury will be a big boost for City when they face Everton this evening David Silva’s return from injury will be a big boost for City when they face Everton this evening (Getty Images)
The public appetite for a City title is not enhanced by Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regime now hitting them, unfairly bracketing them with Paris Saint-Germain among those who have not complied, when there is a world of difference between the French club’s seeming gross indifference to Michel Platini’s regime and City falling narrowly short of compliance. With the last of the big wage-earners of City’s accelerated growth period – Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Wayne Bridge and Gareth Barry – now off the books, they could break even in this financial year. The collective transfer fees United paid out for Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata was £120m; City paid £121m for Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Yaya Touré, Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, Joe Hart and Nasri. This is a club doing what they always said they would – moving towards sustainability after initial accelerated growth.

It is even harder to get the rest of the world to see things that way when such an idealistic story as Liverpool’s is playing out. At Goodison Park – where City today take a perilously poor record of one win and seven defeats in 10 games – they will just be seen as the club with the most complete squad, who should have put things to bed by now. 

They are the one side in the three-way title chase who combine attacking prowess with defensive rigour, but with the exception of a golden December and January, they have not managed to win more than three successive league games this season. Much may rest on David Silva’s return from ankle problems today.

“When you are the favourites it’s really hard but we cannot fail any more,” Nasri said. “We can’t hide.”

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Travel
travel
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel