• Premier League

Nzonzi told to deal with Stoke injustice

ESPN staff
February 26, 2013
Steven Nzonzi has been told to get used to opponents overstepping the mark with him © PA Photos

Stoke City midfielder Steven Nzonzi has been given a reminder to keep his emotions in check after he flirted with picking up a costly red card in Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Fulham.

The France Under-21 international gestured angrily at home fans and later shoved a hand into the face of Bryan Ruiz when he lost his cool following a challenge from Dimitar Berbatov.

He was left with a broken nose and a booking against his name in the wake of the incident with the Bulgarian forward but has been warned to watch his step in the future because of a sense of injustice Stoke have harboured all season.

"He wasn't too pleased having his nose broken," said assistant manager Dave Kemp. "You can bet if it was the other way round, the story would have been all over the papers.

"We've got a reputation, where other teams are allowed to do what they like against us, and he has got to come to terms with that. He is a top-quality player but you cannot take every injustice personally. If a referee gets something wrong, or an opposition player takes a liberty, he cannot let it affect his performance.

"If he feels there is an injustice, and he might be right, you have still got to get on with it. Football is just like life in that respect. He has got all the attributes but, mentally, it affects him if something goes against him."

Nzonzi's short fuse has been apparent more than once this winter. On several occasions, he has shown anger and frustration with officials, opponents and even colleagues.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis was an outspoken critic of diving opponents earlier in the season and there was also some disquiet in the Potteries that full-back Andy Wilkinson had been harshly punished when banned for three matches for an incident against Manchester City that the officials had missed.

Now, the club are anxious to ensure that Nzonzi, who has been praised for bravely staying on the field at Craven Cottage, stays out of trouble.

"He has shown great character to keep playing on Saturday," Kemp added. "He kept putting his head in to try and win headers.

"He has been brilliant for us during his first six months at the club, a major influence. It has been a really impressive period for him but, for me, he's just finding out what it's like to play for Stoke City. Not everything is fair."

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