Samir Nasri has a point to prove this season, after he was cast as the scapegoat for Manchester City’s inability to defend their Premier League title last time around.
The French international midfielder had a bitter falling out with ex-City boss Roberto Mancini, and endured harsh criticism from pundits who suggested he had lost the will to win.
And now Nasri admits that he was affected by the negative vibes he attracted last season, that made him feel as if he was “an ugly duckling.”
But ahead of the new season the atmosphere is brighter at the Etihad, and Nasri is looking forward to proving his detractors wrong.
"I'm feeling more relaxed, but the last few months were very trying for me,” he told Fifa’s official website.
“Emotionally, I went through several moments of doubt and reassessment. Some of the criticism I got hurt me, and lots of bad things were said.
"I accept criticism as long as it's justified, but there were lots of lies about me. I made mistakes, I know, but I'm not the ugly duckling that some people seem to think."
Meanwhile, Nasri says City were disappointed by the meek way they surrendered their title to United, and has pledged that they will make a far heartier effort this season.
"It was certainly a very disappointing season and losing our title of English champions was a failure that was difficult for the whole squad to swallow,” he said.
"We didn't manage to win a single trophy, and that's disappointing for a club with the standing of Manchester City. We had a very testing year but we'll learn from our mistakes to have an excellent season next year."