Interview with Shaun Wright-Phillips

By Ric Turner, Tue 16 August 2022 17:03

Interview with Shaun Wright-PhillipsClub legend SWP speaks to Bluemoon on all things City-related

Shaun Wright-Phillips was a hugely popular player during his two spells at Manchester City. Graduating from the club's youth academy, he made a total of 274 appearances for the club, scoring 46 goals, and was named as the Player of the Season in 2004. He moved to Chelsea for a then club-record £21m in 2005, before returning three years later just before Sheikh Mansour's takeover.

Here he is speaking to Bluemoon, courtesy of bet365.

What do you make of Manchester City's transfer window so far? Do they have a weaker squad after selling three players (Sterling, Jesus & Zinchenko)?

To be honest, I think it's the best business I've seen in the transfer window for a very long time. I think the money they've made off the players, whether they were from the Academy or whether they were from the starting team and then being able to bring in the calibre of the players they did bring in, I thought it's been good business. 

I wouldn't say it's a weaker team, rather a stronger team in different areas and different aspects of the game itself, especially with two strikers that they brought in. It's given City different options to play with. 

If you look at the West Ham game, the amount of crosses that came in, there must have been about 10 in the first half and it's not something we're used to seeing City doing. Those signings have made City stronger in a completely different way. 

But of course, losing players like Sterling, Jesus and Zinchenko who played massive parts over the past four seasons, you're going to be thinking the teams weaker. 

Your son D'Margio recently signed a new deal at Stoke, how far can he go and what is the best piece of advice you have given him?

I've seen him and at times he surprises me with his football IQ even from such a young age. Most footballers, now their football IQ in and around those attacking areas is very, very high. 

He's got so much of it already at a young age, he's doing well, and I think the main thing to him is consistency - that's the hardest transition as a kid is getting the consistency week in, week out. The difference between playing in the first team or not is consistency. 

You need to always pose a threat to the opposition and perform the way the manager wants you to. So, in terms of my advice to him, I say keep learning, keep enjoying your football and don't be disheartened if you're not picked in the first team to start. Just be ready for when your time comes as football can change at any given minute. 

If you're not ready for when your time comes, you've got to wait another 3 months. If you are, you might never drop out the first team again. 

What do you make of Raheem Sterling's decision to leave Man City for Chelsea? 

I think for him personally, yeah. As a player you always want to play football, he's done the rotation for 4 or 5 years and it will bear on you if you want to play. The Raheem that we saw playing regularly at City was the Raheem that we saw breaking records, scoring all these goals that Wingers shouldn't be scoring. You don't normally see wingers put up those numbers on a regular basis. Raheem will want to get back to that.

On the other hand, many will rightly say, why would you want to leave a club that's dominating and looking to secure a Champions League win? I think for him it shows just how much he wants to play. I take my hat off to him. 

Just how much of an impact can Raheem Sterling have at Chelsea? Was Pep Guardiola naive to let him leave?

City and Chelsea play different styles and tactics so it'll be difficult to compare like for like, he may now score more from outside the box rather than tap-ins that he was getting at City, but from what I've heard at City is if a player wants to leave, they don't try and stop them. 

They'd rather the player leave and be happy than stay and be unhappy. So, whatever's happened, it's how it's come out. I'll never know how or why it's happened, but I know Raheem loves playing his football and start week in, week out. 

What's your favourite you scored for City?

The one I scored against Man United when we beat them 4-1, it was nice to be on the other side when they got hammered from us, not the other way around. To be a part of that was great! 

Which players did you most enjoy playing with at City?

My first spell at City, I'd say Eyal Berkovic and Ali Benarbia - they were on a different wavelength of football that improved me and taught me different aspects of the game. 

When I went to Chelsea, I'd say Didier Drogba. As a winger all you needed to do was put the ball in the box and he did the rest. 

And when I went back to City, I'd say Stephen Ireland. He was fantastic and we hit the same wavelength straight away. 

When you left the first time a lot of City fans presumed it was purely your decision. Was that frustrating for you knowing that it was actually because the club needed the money?

It wasn't frustrating, I tried to say as much as I could without saying too much when I did interviews. A lot of fans don't know the ins and outs and assume it's the players that make these things happen, but I still respected them, and they still respected me and the love that we had from when I was a kid is still there today. 

How did you feel when Aguero scored that goal?

To be honest, it was quite depressing as in that situation at that minute, QPR were getting relegated, so it wasn't a happy moment, but then as soon as I found out we were safe, it relaxed me and I got to enjoy the moment of survival and for my team to win the league.

Was your brother not given a fair crack at City - could he have made the grade with a little more good fortune?

I think me and him both learnt with football and chances, it can be about timing and a little bit of luck. When he was there, he had players like Anelka, and they were bringing others in. And that would have been a challenge to play in front of guys like that at his age and level of experience. 

Back then, it was a rarity that kids came through that often. He showed what he was capable of at Charlton and whatever happened there, happened. He's gone to America and done the business, so it was just getting that chance to show it. 

As a former City player, what do you make of what's happening to United at the minute? Do you think relegation could be on the cards?

I can't believe we're even having this conversation to be honest! As much as I want to see them down there, for the Premier League and the Manchester Derby, I can't understand what's happening. I've had so many different conversation's from when Mourinho was there and then he got the sack. 

It begs the question that as bad as everything else may be around the club, they've still got quality players on the pitch and a squad full of international players and what I'm watching shouldn't be happening. I can't get my head around it.

Would you say this is best City team ever?

It's hard as we say that every year don't we? The last three seasons, they've been getting better and better. They've lost three massive players this season, but have replaced them with Haaland, Alvarez and Phillips.

I think they're stronger in a different way this season.

How do you think the top four race will go?

I was convinced Chelsea would finish 5th and that it would be Man City Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs, not in that particular order, but those will be the four. Now, after seeing the Spurs Chelsea game, Chelsea should have won it. Spurs played poorly for 65 minutes so after seeing that I'm backing Chelsea to make the top 4 at the expense of Spurs. 

What have you made of Erling Haaland's start to life at Manchester City? 

Fantastic start for him. Two goals and two assists already, he's doing fantastic. He's learning how to play a different way of football compared to what he's used to. He has to be a lot more patient and wait for the right option. 

I can see him scoring a lot more goals away from home, because of the way teams set themselves up when they come to the Etihad, so he's going to have a big learning curve getting used to that. If he gets it right, he'll become an unbelievable player. 

You re-signed for Man City a couple of days before Sheikh Mansour took over the club. What was the atmosphere around the club like when the takeover happened? 

I remember everyone talking about Robinho coming and a few of us who'd be in and around City a long time looked at each other like, 'yeah right'. We were only just starting and didn't expect those types of names so early on. 

The best thing Sheikh Mansour did was to have a plan and a structure. And they followed and executed to every single last detail. That's what made City they are today. The club's always been warm and loving, but now there's so many things happening in and around City, it's frightening the potential of the place. I have to say thank you for everything they've done.

What has gone wrong for Manchester City in previous Champions League campaigns? Does Pep Guardiola genuinely ‘overthink’ his tactics? Can they win it this season?

I said it last season and the season before so I'm not going to say it this year! In the past in Cups and competitions, you need a bit of luck and that quality and Real Madrid last year showed that quality. I think they were behind for 160 minutes out of the 190 or something like that. 

The quality for them shows in the dying moments that results in them coming away with a win. 

At the same time, you have to be good enough to create chances and crucially, take them. But that little bit of luck is needed. Spurs had it when they got to the final with the VAR decision for handball which now wouldn't even be given due to the rule change. 

So, there's so many little things that get in the way, but now with Haaland and Alvarez it changes the dynamic of how City play. So, I'm going to say it, I’m backing City to win the Champions League this season!