Wright-Phillips: Just another expensive substitute!

Shaun Wright-Phillips’ arrival at The Bridge has been greeted with the obligatory rash of negative reporting in the British sporting press. Sometimes I wonder whether journalists even bother to think of something new or positive to write, or just regurgitate the same tired “The Multi-Million Pound Sub” headlines and stories which first appeared in the summer of 2003.

Take this for example, written by one Louise Taylor in today’s Guardian:

“Shaun’s our main man,” Keegan once enthused. “We just tell him to go out and cause trouble.” Such scope is unlikely to be available at Stamford Bridge where Wright-Phillips will become absurdly rich but, even when liberated from the unaccustomed indignity of going from “main man” to warming the substitutes’ bench, may find his footballing style cramped by Mourinho’s golden handcuffs.

That’s not the worst of it, either. Ms Taylor uses Wright-Phillips’ 60-minute England debut — an occasion that clearly got to him — to imply that he will struggle to perform in the 4-3-3 formation much loved by Mourinho. She goes on to say, ” … there is a lingering suspicion that Wright-Phillips at Chelsea might be a case of a square peg in a round hole.”

I know the rapidly proliferating hatred of Chelsea Football Club has probably heightened my sense of paranoia, but come on… there’s no mention of the positives, such as the fact that Mourinho will likely improve Wright-Phillips and mold him into an all-round, complete player, much like he has Joe Cole. We all remember the Joe Cole that started last season: technically brilliant and capable of moments of genius, but nonetheless greedy and tactically and defensively naive. But come March Cole was Barclays Player of the Month after some outstanding attacking and defensive displays for both Chelsea and England.

And who was responsible for the improvement in Cole’s game? Jose Mourinho, that’s who. I’d wager my house on Shaun Wright-Phillips improving equally as much as Cole under the tutelage of the Portuguese genius.

There’s also nothing about Duff and Robben’s susceptibility to injury, the huge number of games Chelsea will play domestically and in Europe, or that there’s a World Cup next year and the freshness of players like Cole, Wright-Phillips and Lampard will be key to England’s success in Germany. Nada. Zilch. It’s all negative, anti-Mourinho tosh (“Ian Wright’s stepson might have been better off working for a manager like Sir Alex Ferguson who, as Cristiano Ronaldo has discovered, appears far more willing to indulge free-spirited talent than Mourinho.”).

And of course, it goes without saying that the signing of Wright-Phillips means Joe Cole’s Chelsea career is all but over. There’s just no way The Blues can accommodate him; two world-class players per position is not allowed. He has to go.

Get used to this kind of thing; we’ll soon be reading articles daily about the unhappiness of Chelsea’s star wingers, and their desire to leave for pastures new. Mark my words.

There’s no doubt Wright-Phillips will spend time as a substitute, as will Robben, Duff and Cole — but what world-class team doesn’t have world-class players on the bench? It’s what makes the team world-class, weirdly enough.

It is inconceivable that Chelsea will not find some role for Wright-Phillips after their massive financial investment in him. Inconceivable.

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