Stoke City: Dave Kemp urges Steven Nzonzi to keep temperament in check
STEVEN Nzonzi has been told to learn the lesson that life as a Stoke player is not always fair.
Nzonzi's temperament was called into question at Fulham on Saturday after he twice over-reacted in the wake of an earlier incident with Dimitar Berbatov which had left him with a broken nose.
He gestured angrily to the crowd when he was receiving treatment – then later escaped a red card when pushing a hand into Bryan Ruiz's face.
"He wasn't too pleased having his nose broken," said assistant manager Dave Kemp, "and you can bet if it was the other way round it would have been all over the papers.
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"We've got a reputation, where other teams are allowed to do what they like against us, and he's got to come to terms with that."
Nzonzi has visibly shown his anger and frustration with officials, opponents and even colleagues on several occasions over the past couple of months.
Kemp added: "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."
Kemp believes Nzonzi, who joined from Blackburn in August, does deserve credit for playing on with the broken nose he suffered after a collision with Berbatov in the first half.
"He's shown great character to keep playing. He kept putting his head in to try and win headers," explained Kemp.
"He's been brilliant for us during his first six months at the club, a major influence.
"It's 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."
Kemp also revealed that Jon Walters had overcame illness to play against Fulham on Saturday when he missed a crucial second-half penalty.
"He hadn't felt well and did train on the Friday, so he put in a 90-minute shift against all the odds," he said.
"He could have given the penalty to somebody else, but he's a strong character.
"That character means he will bounce back from the disappointment, there's no doubt."
Kemp said he supported manager Tony Pulis's policy of letting the players decide among themselves who takes penalties to ensure no-one is forced into the responsibility.
"That's our policy and I go along with is. Mind you, we don't get that many penalties," he added.
The club's medical staff are assessing Matthew Etherington's back injury ahead of Saturday's visit from his old club West Ham.
MAMA Sidibe has returned temporarily to Stoke for treatment on a hamstring injury he picked up on his Tranmere Rovers debut in Saturday's 5-1 win at struggling Colchester in League One.