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Shaun Wright-Phillips: City are still favourites for the title

26 Oct | interview | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Shaun Wright-Phillips: City are still favourites for the title
Source: Alamy Stock Photo

In an exclusive interview with Betway, the former City midfielder looks ahead to the Manchester Derby.

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City got back to winning ways against Brighton. Do you think they are favourites for the title this year, and who are their biggest rivals?

I think you would say that they are still favourites, but it’s not easy – I’ve said that a few times before already this year. I think this season is so open, there are so many strong teams in there, and teams that can pull off performances that can beat those top teams. 

I think if you look back at the Manchester United game against Sheffield United, everybody would have thought they were going to win that game comfortably, but it wasn’t to be and in many ways they struggled to get over the line before getting the three points. 

Games like that are going to be happening all year, so there will be a lot of dropped points in that top four area and there’s a long way to go.

Jeremy Doku has had a positive start to his City career. What have you made of the signing so far?

I’m a massive fan of his. Just the way he plays – I wouldn’t say it’s naïve, but he reminds me of certain aspects of me when I was younger. It didn’t matter who I played against, in my head, I just believed I could get past them. I think it’s something that City have needed, it’s given us another dimension. 

He goes to the byline, as we saw against Brighton, and he tries to pick out passes, or he comes inside and has a shot himself. He also tries to retain possession and bring other people into the game, whether it be him drawing in two players and freeing somebody else up, then sliding the ball into them. So for me, it’s a massive plus that he joined City.

Julian Alvarez has also had a great start to the season and is one of the first names on the team sheet. Is he better than Haaland right now?

For me, it’s not a matter of whether he’s better than Haaland at the minute. I just think that right now, they complement each other very well. Pep has kind of gone old school where it’s kind of like a ‘little and large’ combination. You see when Haaland gets the ball, if Alvarez goes past him, he looks for Alvarez, and it’s the same vice versa. 

I think what he brings to the team as well – even though Haaland rocketed one in against Brighton – is that he takes long shots from outside the box, which City have never really done too much. I think people sit so deep that they have to start hitting shots, because then people start stepping out and those little key passes into the final third will be available more often.

What’s your prediction for the Manchester derby?

If you go off performances, I would imagine that City would steamroll them, especially after watching United against Sheffield United. But that’s never the case – it’s a derby. Derbies are completely different. 

I remember playing when Man Utd were dominating the Premier League, and City were just ambling through mid-table, but that game changes everything. Both sets of players know the culture of Manchester, they know how much it means to the fans and the club. It’s almost bragging rights, isn’t it? Even if your team is doing worse than the other team, the fans will brag about that for the rest of the season, and kids will go to school bragging about it to other kids. It will be completely different. We’ll see a completely different Man Utd to what we’ve seen so far this season, I’d imagine.

Just finally a bit about Jadon Sancho – reports suggest he’s been asked by his teammates to apologise to Erik ten Hag. What do you make of this saga? Is it best for Sancho to move on now?

I think it’s unfair, to be honest. I think a lot of things have come out about him, whether it be from the manager, the players or whoever else. Nobody else is asked to say sorry. I think there are emotions in football and he’s a man and there’s also pride there – at some point he’s got to say his piece. You can’t just sit there quietly and just take everything. I just think as men and in a football world they should just get on with it. He’s said what he’s said – he’s just defending himself. He’s been listening to everybody say he’s this, or he’s not doing this, or he’s coming in late, and he stayed quiet until a point where he felt like he had to say something. 

He’s a good player – whether he suits Manchester United is a completely different thing, but as a player you can’t take away what he did before he got there, and when he did come back from the situation before, I thought he did pretty well. He went past players, he scored goals, got assists, but now he’s up against Rashford on that left wing – that’s a hard challenge, especially when Rashford is playing well. If he moves on, good luck to him because I think he’s got the talent to do whatever he wants in a football match. But if he doesn’t, I think let bygones be bygones and just get on with it. He hasn’t done anything that malicious to be in the situation he’s in, in my personal opinion.