CELTIC v ZENIT ST PETERSBURG Sincy feels Zen over City snubs from Mancini and only wants to show his true worth for Celts
IF ever there was an ideal time for Scott Sinclair to hit the scintillating form he produced last term for Celtic, tonight would be it.
The Hoops winger will be reunited with Roberto Mancini, the manager who took him from Swansea to Manchester City in 2012 in a £6.2million switch.
It did not end well with Sinclair left out of entire match squads at times and barely registering any game time.
If he is bitter about the move or the lack of opportunities under Mancini, it does not show. Quietly spoken and keen to focus on the here and now rather than look over his shoulder, the 28-year-old maintained that he has neither hard feelings nor a point to prove.
And yet, getting the last word by shining brightly in the two legs against the Russians this week would surely offer some glimmer of satisfaction.
“When I went to City, I was high in confidence because the club bought me, but then I didn’t get anywhere close to the games that I wanted, and that confidence does go down a little bit because I’ve not been playing as much,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say I have a point to prove to him. It’s for myself. I have always set my own targets, my own level, and try to do as well as I can for myself. I don’t feel as if I have anything to prove to anyone.
“It is just one of those things. I don’t have any regrets about any of my moves because they all teach you and they helped me become the player and man I am now.
“You have to go through tough times to come out of the end of them.
“When I went to City, I played only a few games under him, but what I would say is that he’s a good manager, a really tactical manager, and I am sure he will be looking to win this game.
“He did spend a lot of money on me but then City spent a lot of money on everyone else as well! That’s the way it was. When I went to City there were so many to quality players there who I was competing with.
“I would have like to have got more game-time there but what I would say is that I’m a completely different player to what I was at City. I am a better player at Celtic than I was at Manchester City. I’m a very different player.”
Last season Sinclair had every bit of the swagger that Mancini would have caught sight of at Swansea. This term the winger has kept the goals coming for the Parkhead side – all 17 of them – but he hasn’t appeared to carry the same confidence into games.
THERE is a suggestion that could be levelled across the board at Celtic’s performances this term as a whole.
Indeed, after the home defeat to Anderlecht in December, Brendan Rodgers was uncharacteristically vocal about in his criticism of the players as he publicly lamented some of the displays and the lack of concentration at European level.
Tonight’s meeting is an opportunity to atone for that in some ways, albeit that a team who invested £80m of resources to freshen up their squad last summer would give Celtic problems on any night.
“We want to go and show that as a team,” said Sinclair. “We need to put on a great performance when we go out there.
“The main thing is to win the game but obviously to also put a show for the fans as well.
“We take it on board. In every game we go into, we want to perform and we want to win. That game was no different. That’s just the way we are as a team and the manager is the same.”
And Sinclair is keen to provide the spark that will ignite the home support. The Parkhead side are not expected to prevail against the wealth of the Russians, bit for Sinclair the baggage of that does not feature on the radar.
“Celtic Park is an unbelievable place when we have the fans behind us,” he said. “The atmosphere is amazing. I think that can spur us on even more.
“As a player, you don’t really go into things thinking about how much players are worth. You go toe to toe with them and put in your shift – and try and make sure you are the one who performs better on the day.
“We don’t go into it thinking about how players are worth.”
The stage is set to serve a reminder of his own value.