Mens Team

Wright-Phillips: Fans helped me make first-team breakthrough

Shaun Wright-Phillips believes the City fans were vital in helping him break into the first team on a regular basis.

Wright-Phillips enjoyed two spells at City, making a total of 262 appearances having joined the Club as a 17-year-old in the aftermath of his release from Nottingham Forest.

His first period saw him handed his debut by Joe Royle as a substitute in a League Cup tie at Burnley, before going on to establish himself as the most exciting young English player before making a big-money move to Chelsea in 2005.

But he says Kevin Keegan, who took over from Royle in 2001, initially had doubts about his physicality, and feels it was the pressure applied by the City fans desperate to see an academy graduate in the side that made his dream of playing for City possible.

“When Keegan first took over it was difficult for me because he deemed me as too small,” he says.

“At the time there wasn’t really a place for me because, obviously with set pieces, I couldn’t really mark people, so there was a spell where I wasn’t playing.

“Then he introduced me as wing-back but I think that was to do with pressure from the fans as they wanted me to come on having seen me grown up.

“Once I was in it was a rollercoaster, it all took off.

“Keegan was definitely an attack-minded manager and at times for a fan it must have been crazy because it was entertaining but at the same time we were quite open and conceded goals as well.”

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After a three-year spell at Chelsea that saw him win every domestic trophy, Wright-Phillips made an emotional return to City in 2008 under Mark Hughes.

Hughes was in the process of assembling a new-look side in the wake of the Club’s takeover by ADUG, a hugely exciting period in our history.

But things didn’t go as well as expected for the Welshman, and after finishing tenth in his one full season in charge, Hughes was sacked in December 2009 with City sixth in the table having won just two of our last 11 Premier League matches.

Wright-Phillips admits he struggled to understand the decision when it was made but says time has shown City made the right move by bringing in Roberto Mancini, who went on to end our 35-year wait for a major trophy.

“I think my best spell in terms of personal performance was in 2004 - but the best team was under Mark Hughes with Elano,” SWP reflected.

“For me, I don’t think anything went particularly wrong under Hughes, I think when he got the sack it wasn’t unjust but it was strange because we were well up in the league and had just gone six games unbeaten.

“Maybe they thought he wasn’t big enough for the job but if you look back now every decision the club has made has been correct.”

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