I remember Shaun Wright-Phillips’ last few seasons at Man City prior to his 2005 move to Chelsea – he was often unstoppable, unleashing cracking long-ranged shots in regularly to prove City’s best performer and frustrate the big boys time and time again. A big money move was always calling, but Arsenal were always the team linked to make the adopted son of one of their former greats a star at the top level. Unfortunately for Shaun he picked the wrong move and subsequently was sent back to City three years later with his tail between his legs and now he’s reinventing himself with the club which made him.
When Wright-Phillips made his £21 million move to Chelsea many were shocked, mainly due to the fact that Chelsea already had top levels right wingers in Arjen Robben and Joe Cole, where would SWP fit in? As his first season wore on and the diminutive winger struggled to get games it seemed the answer was that he wouldn’t. Questions were asked about Wright-Phillips’ signing with speculation that Chelsea had only bought him to prevent their rivals from getting hold of him, using their financial might to ensure that nobody else would get such a player.
Calling Wright-Phillips a flop at Chelsea may seem somewhat harsh given that he improved over the latter two years at the club and made over 80 appearances for the club during his three year spell but it was the manner in which one of the top English players out of the Top Four was made into a bit-part player which made SWP’s move disappointing. When he did return to City the fee was only a little more than a third of what Chelsea had paid for him, showing that they had given up on him and no longer felt he’d trouble them playing for someone else.
When a player succeeds at a big club you would expect him to remain with them for some time or otherwise move to another big club in another big money move. Instead Wright-Phillips returned to his former club who were always going to have room for him, a regression? Definitely. More recently SWP has been showing form more like that which earned him his move to Chelsea and he’s been one of City’s best performers this year, but he doesn’t bang them in like he used to and he’s no longer viewed as one of England’s top talents – instead he’s down the pecking order for England behind Aaron Lennon with speculation that David Beckham could still be taken ahead of him. £21 million brought 4 goals over three years and an irregular role in the squad, a case of a big money move going wrong? Yes, not the worst ever but a poor move nonetheless.