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Shaun Wright-Phillips interview: Manchester City, Chelsea, Champions League

29 Mar | BY Guy Giles | MIN READ TIME |
Shaun Wright-Phillips interview: Manchester City, Chelsea, Champions League

The former Manchester City and Chelsea winger looks ahead to their Champions League quarter-finals and discusses the legacy of Pep Guardiola.

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How do you think City will get on against Bayern in the Champions League?

It’s a tough one. Bayern is always going to be a tricky fixture. Cancelo can play and we all know what he’s capable of, regardless of what team he comes up against. I think we have to worry about them in transition with people like Sane and Gnabry, the list goes on. They’ve got some fantastic players, great defenders.

It’s important to limit it Bayern having it their own way. If you can stop that, then you’re in with a fantastic chance.

Walker versus Sane is going to be a very interesting matchup because they’re both lightning quick. I would say Walker’s stronger, but Sane has that change of direction. It will be interesting to see that matchup especially.

Does the recent appointment of Thomas Tuchel change anything for City?

I wouldn’t think it would be something that will play on anybody’s mind too much. It was interesting that they sacked their manager considering they’ve only lost three times this season. To make a move on Tuchel that quickly, that plan was obviously there.

Tuchel’s got a lot on his hands, though. He’s got to get this team playing the way he wants them to play, which is a change in style, a different way of playing tactically. That’s not an easy task. Also, he’s not faced the current City and the way they play now, with Haaland in that No. 9 position, so there’s going to be a lot for him to think about there. If I remember correctly, he played a middle to high line at Chelsea, and it was easier to do that then because we played with a false nine. You can’t do that anymore. It’ll be a fantastic tactical battle.

If City don’t manage to win the Champions League this season, what do you think the future holds for Pep?

The future is whatever Pep wants it to be. I’ve had conversations in the past where people say he’s failed by not winning the Champions League, but I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t believe as a manager, getting to the Champions League final or semi-final is a failure. When you say it like that, it’s almost like we’re not respecting all the other fantastic teams that are in the competition.

He’s done so much for Manchester City, not just the first-team but for the staff, the Academy, the youth team players. The football IQ and intelligence of the players who are now coming through the ranks, they all look like they can play at the highest level.

What do City need to do to win the Champions League?

In my personal opinion, if you’re playing well in the Premier League then those rhythms carry on in the Champions League. I think that’s all they should focus on. In football, sometimes you need a bit of luck and you make your own luck by playing well.

Real Madrid last year, I wouldn’t say they got lucky, but they earned that situation through hard work and little things dropping their way. I’ve felt within the Champions League, over the last three or four years, City haven’t had that little bit of luck. I just feel like at some point that will come, whether it’s this year or next year, it will happen.

They’ve got a very, very hard route this year, but if they beat Bayern, and they go on to beat either Chelsea or Real Madrid, you would say they deserve to win it.

How do you see Chelsea’s quarter-final against Real Madrid going?

I think Real Madrid are there to be beaten. They give you chances, although that’s the one thing that Chelsea have struggled with is scoring those chances. But that could change in this game.

I don’t think Vinicius is going to have it all his own way either, as long as Reece James is fit. He’s going to have a very difficult game because Reece is as quick as him, a lot stronger than him, and he’ll take you the other way as well and put in a quality ball to the box.

To me, it’s just a matter of Chelsea taking their chances, because they will get them.

You do obviously have to worry about players like Modric, Benzema, Kroos, they’ve got so many players that can hurt you. You have to be naïve and not give them that respect and let them play the ball wherever they want. If you do that, they will beat any team.

Both of their Champions League wins came when they weren’t fancied to go all the way. Do you think they can do it again this year?

They have the players there and the capability to do it. Their biggest issue, regardless of how they’ve played, is putting chances in the back of the net. Now you’re at the business end of the season, they need to start converting those chances to get to places like the Champions League final, or even finishing in the top four in the Premier League. They’re a long way off those things and it’s goals they need to get them there.

Guy Giles

Guy Giles

Sports writer who produces regular football and cricket tips, while also covering a range of other sports.

Guy Giles

Guy Giles

Sports writer who produces regular football and cricket tips, while also covering a range of other sports.