Thursday, 28 August 2008

SWP signs four year deal

It's a good day when a stoppage time equaliser and penalty shoot-out victory are not the most exciting pieces of news. But today saw something even more exciting, and, looking beyond the last 48 hours, unlikely. The re-signing of the prodigal son, Shaun Wright-Phillips.

So much has happened since he left in the summer of 2005. Two dreadful seasons under Stuart Pearce, the takeover, the Eriksson revolution and eventual fall, and now the rather tumultuous opening of the Hughes era. Watching the footage of his goals against Arsenal, Villa and, of course, United. that Sky Sports News are showing looks feels like looking back at a different age.

Wright-Phillips was a symbol of hope in a more innocent time. Still riding the high of the long march of the Royle era. Before we stared relegation and possible administration in the face (and were saved from it by a man signed from al-Rayyan). Before we took the salvation of Thaksin's cash and the necessary compromises that came with it. Before we tried to sign Ronaldinho. Those Keegan years, and even Pearce's heroic entrance in spring 2005, were the longest sustained period of optimism I can remember as a City fan. And with his pace and trickery, his exuberance and enthusiasm, his all round joie de vivre, Shaun came to symbolise all that was good about Keegan-era City.

He was also the first player to emerge from the MCFC Academy into the first team. ( did a very good feature on SWP in this regard, read it here). It was another few years before we got Joey Barton through (a good player and a credit to the Academy, despite everything else), and some more time again before the current crop who are doing so well. In a team of well travelled stars: Benarbia, Berkovic and Anelka, to name but three, it was heartening to see one of our own shining as brightly as any of these purchases.

So to have him back means an awful lot. Much has changed since he (and MCFC, it must be said) took Abramovich's money. Of the current squad, he only played for City alongside Richard Dunne and Nedum Onuoha (and, in fact, Danny Mills). When he left Mark Hughes had completed one season as Blackburn manager and Thaksin had just been re-elected in a landslide. But much has stayed the same. He is still an explosive right winger, capable of beating most left backs around. He can still cross and shoot as well as any other English wide player. He's still a lad who was turned away by Forest for being too small so went to City to realise his dream. And he'll still be loved by the City fans, if not even more than before.

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