Shaun Wright-Phillips has confessed this week that his departure from Eastlands is practically assured at the end of this season, but can he still rediscover his form..?
Ironically, in this correspondent’s Blue eyes, City need Shaunie more than ever right now.
The Blues are playing too narrowly in my opinion at this stage of a potentially gripping season and beginning to look wearily one dimensional. We aren’t breaking out of midfield anywhere quickly enough nor pushing up enough to press opponents back when required.
Despite repeated statistically high rates of possession, the team are choosing to generally take the ball up to a packed defence then pass around the houses in search of one killer pass to be run on to for a shot at goal.
This key picking strategy sounds great in theory and it almost worked in the 4th minute of the Manchester derby, but The Citizens are not getting in behind full backs enough with rapidity and it’s that lack of width and pace that threatens to de-rail a campaign that still harbours rich promise.
The loss through injury of the very often scintillatingly unpredictable Adam Johnson and the options he gives Roberto Mancini’s squad was the hammer blow which led to Mancio stopping Wrighty’s loan move to Fulham last month.
There simply was not enough time left in the January transfer window to research and bring in a player offering similar capability and if anything, Wrighty, hopelessly out of the picture, saw his City career dragged back from the brink. The chance to fully resurrect it remains for the 29 year old England international.
It’s clear from Mancio’s what were in my view, harsh post match comments on Shaun’s Europa League performance at Aris that the winger, severely out of match practice, will not have the benefit of time on his side to deliver. And deliver he must if not only he is to realise a career transformation but if Manchester City are to achieve long craved for success this season.
And to do that, Shaun the potential provider must be provided for in turn.
Too often of late, the likes of Gareth Barry and YaYa Toure have faded badly in the latter stages of a game to the extent where Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez have had to drop ridiculously deep to recover the ball and continually strive to go through the middle aided by David Silva.
Gary Owen remarked in these pages last year that when a side drop back with a packed defence and play narrowly across the back as many of our opponents have done this season, then central midfielders can be made to look like world beaters by spraying long balls into space towards the corner flags for wide men to charge on to behind the defence. Too often in the last campaign, City were victims of precisely that defensive approach themselves.
Shaun Wright-Phillips can be the man to get on the end of those balls and can deliver. Without AJ or Rangers’ Vladimir Weiss there is nobody else in the senior squad with that potential ammunition. Okay, he struggled for form badly prior to his transfer request related squad excommunication towards the end of last year. There are many Blues who feel that Chelsea bench warming ruined him but when Mark Hughes brought him back he played like a man possessed.
Nothing would please Planet Blue more than to see City’s most celebrated Academy graduate being there to play a big part in City winning a trophy or sealing Champions League football this May.
Clearly short of confidence but full of running, if Shaunie can get a goal or help make something special happen, we could yet see the boy who came back earn the medal and the trophy that his past efforts for the Man City cause deserve.
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