Date: 23rd January 2006 at 8:01pm
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Whatever Happened To Our Shaun?

Charlton v Chelsea is not normally a fixture I?d take a lot of interest in, but with nothing better to do I thought I?d see if SWP had actually made the starting line-up for a change. Well, no surprises to find out he was a sub again, and it just shows how much his career has nose-dived since leaving City, that being named on the bench is a good result for him these days.

It wasn?t a shock when he left to join ?a bigger club ?. It was the worst kept secret; we all knew it was going to happen and with hindsight it has been a good bit of business for the club. Good as he was, Chelsea paid way over the odds for him to the obvious delight of City?s financiers. The team now has a better balance about it with less reliance on one key individual to perform.

SWP did manage to get a rare 20 minutes or so against Charlton at the weekend, but he was a just a shell of the confident young buck that recently graced Eastlands. Gone was the spring in his step and the swagger that normally left defenders trailing in his wake. His natural confidence and exuberance seems to have deserted him badly and although he probably wouldn?t admit it publicly, I?m sure he regrets the day he joined the ?Special One? at the Bridge.

It wasn?t so long ago that he was being hailed as Beckham?s replacement and a certainty for the England World Cup squad. Nowadays he?s barely spoken of and on current form he?d be lucky to make the trip to Germany later in the summer.

I think most of us knew it was the wrong move for him. SWP is the type of player who needs to be playing most weeks and with the competition of Cole, Duff, Robben etc it was never going to be easy to make the match day squad, let alone the team. Chelsea?s style just doesn?t suit the lad who grew up with a traditional 4-4-2, not the negative and complex formations Mourinho favours. It might have been different if he?d followed his Dad?s footsteps to Highbury where he would at least have got more regular football, but at Chelsea he just looks like a square peg in a round hole.

We all knew that, so why couldn?t he see it? I guess agents and advisors have a lot to answer for ? business is business after all. Just like Anelka, the ?Incredible Sulk?, SWP has missed an opportunity to be a City great, although the circumstances between the two were very different. I think most Blues will continue to have a soft spot for SWP because of the way he lit up many a cold winter?s afternoon with displays of indescribable class, but sadly I don?t think he?ll now go down as a City legend like he should have done. He?ll always be held in high esteem, but it?s not the same thing.

In a week that?s just seen Arsenal lure young Walcott away from the club that nurtured his obvious talent, the warning signs are there for all clubs with young players who are easily tempted by greener grass. City too need to look out; it won?t be long before predatory clubs try to steal our young talent away. The likes of Richards, Sturridge, Miller, Onouha, and Ireland all have growing reputations and for sure are on other clubs? wish lists. Before being lured away by the promise of a brighter future, they should learn from Shaun?s experience.

I guess the sad irony for SWP was that all this was going to make him an even bigger and better player. Perhaps in time it will; it is after all still early days and things might pick up for the poor lad and hopefully they will, but have his World Cup chances been enhanced by the ?dream? move to West London ? I don?t think so. Would his name be one of the first on Sven?s squad sheet if he was still a Light Blue? ? Probably.

M.Shaw 23/01/06


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