Following the success of his younger brother Bradley, former Manchester City, Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers’ winger Shaun Wright-Phillips has officially put pen to paper – sealing a move to the New York Red Bulls.
Now with New York’s premier Major League Soccer team, Shaun Wright-Phillips will attempt to do the same thing his brother Bradley did, revive his flailing career in the US and Canada’s top-flight.
Unlike Bradley, however, Shaun will not occupy a designated player roster spot, leaving the team open to make a big-money deal in the coming weeks.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, who spent numerous years with three of the richest club’s in England, broke into top-flight football with Manchester City. At the time, the club were far from the big spending, star-studded team they now resemble.
Making his debut in 1999, the tricky, speedster spent six seasons with City before making a lucrative £21 million move Chelsea. City, eager to cash in on Wright-Phillips at the time, sold the playmaker despite his desire to stay with the club.
“I didn’t actually have a choice,” he said later in an interview. “Everybody seemed to think it was something that I wanted to do, but I was happy playing for City. I didn’t want to leave, but [staying] wasn’t an option I had. City were in a bad situation and the money they were offered was hard for them to refuse.
“In the car on the way down I was crying because I didn’t want to go.”
That desire to stay could explain Wright-Phillips time at Chelsea as in 124 appearances for the Stamford Bridge outfit, Wright-Phillips managed a mere ten goals as he failed to make an impact on the squad. He was sold back to Manchester City for less than half the transfer fee that took him to London.
The winger’s return to Manchester under manager Mark Hughes was heralded by fans. However, Wright-Phillips was unable to return to the consistent form he had shown in his first spell at the club.
Four miserable seasons with QPR followed with each season being progressively worse. Last term, Wright-Phillips featured an unimpressive four times, although he reportedly took home just over $5m in wages as the Hoops were relegated from the English Premier League.
Wright-Phillips signing shows the Red Bulls are attempting to put winning over name-value in 2015. The club’s biggest move prior was the transfer purchase of former Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan.
Kljestan, currently making a base salary of $400,000 in 2015, has excelled since returning from Belgium’s Anderlecht. There’s no question Shaun Wright-Phillips can do the same as he joins Kljestan and Lloyd Sam as a triumvirate of attacking talent, supporting main man Bradley.
Living in the shadow of their new noisy neighbors, New York City FC, the Red Bulls are benefiting from what appears to be a more relaxed media eye. Instead of competing with NYC’s big money signings, the club are doing their talking on the pitch, adding quality when available.
So far it is working as the club sit third in the Eastern Conference, nine points behind first place DC United. While nine points may seem insurmountable, the Red Bulls have four games in hand as the club return to MLS action at the weekend.
Wright-Phillips is expected to make his debut on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union as both he and brother Bradley will play together for the first time since 2004, when both wore Manchester City blue.
Though the Red Bulls haven’t made the same waves as the new team in the Bronx, they’ve quietly put together a solid season. Further re-enforcements and the Red Bulls should battle eastern rivals DC United right down to the final match day for top spot in the conference.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer. Drew Farmer is a Manchester, England-based journalist/blogger that writes for World Soccer Talk. Drew has contributed to Radio Yorkshire MLS Monday, Forza Italian Football, Bleacher Report, MLSGB and Soccerly. Originally from southwest Missouri, Drew covers Italy’s Serie A, British football and the USA’s Major League.
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