SUNDERLAND 0 CITY 3
31st August 2008
scorers Wright-Phillips(50 & 58), Ireland(45)
City Hart, Corluka, Richards, Dunne, Ball, Hamann, Johnson, Ireland, Kompany, Wright-Phillips, Jo – subs Schmeichel(unused), Etuhu(77), Evans(77), Caicedo(unused), Garrido(unused), Fernandes(unused), Hamann(55)
CITY FANS’ RETURNING HERO REVELS IN GOOD KOMPANY
The delirious chanting from the Manchester City fans was all about Shaun Wright-Phillips.
“Shauny’s coming home,” they sang. Wright-Phillips did so on Friday, for £9m, having left three years ago for Chelsea for £21m. That deal got sweeter by the second yesterday as Wright-Phillips scored twice in a victory that was much too straightforward for Wearside’s liking. Wright-Phillips scored twice in the League for Chelsea last season. When he moved to Stamford Bridge it took him 52 games to score. It took him 52 minutes yesterday.
Some players just fit at certain clubs and at City, Wright-Phillips belongs. He had seven seasons in Manchester before departing for London and at 26 is back at a club where he will be first-choice. He is also at a club on the up.
“Obviously it’s a dream come true to come back and score two goals,” Wright-Phillips said. “It’s a great relief, I just wanted to come back to City and give 110 per cent. In the end it was comfortable.”
City were higher, faster and stronger, qualities captured in the prowling presence of Vincent Kompany in front of the back four. At around £6m from Hamburg, Kompany, coveted by Real Madrid when he was teenager in Brussels, could be as good value as Wright-Phillips.
Having lost on the season’s opening weekend, at Villa Park, this was a second consecutive 3-0 League win for Mark Hughes’s team and considering they had extra-time in Europe on Thursday, this was evidence of a powerful recovery.
“We looked strong and energetic,” said Hughes. “We were calm in possession, there were good angles to our passing and we got the goals at the right time. Shaun will get the headlines and rightly so, it’s a fantastic story. It’s not just his goals, it’s his general play – he’s going to bring a new element to our game. He’s proved once again that he’s exceptionally gifted. He’s a better player now in his second City spell and we’ll reap the benefits.”
With Chelsea at home next, Hughes was asked if Wright-Phillips would be available. He spluttered at the thought that might not be the case. “Given the amount of money we have spent, I take it he’s ours.”
Also City’s, Hughes confirmed, are Pablo Zabaleta, a £6.4m signing from Espanyol, and Gláuber Berti, a Brazilian on loan from Nuremburg, both defenders.
But as the players walked off, Vedran Corluka prolonged his stay in front of the City fans. Waving repeatedly in a gesture of apparent farewell, Corluka threw his shirt away, though Hughes said he “needed an update” on whether the Croat’s move to Tottenham was still on. Whoever has Corluka has a real footballer. He was part of a back four that had to be robust during a lively opening. Djibril Cissé was given a home debut and he and El-Hadji Diouf combined usefully, while Steed Malbranque was creative on the right. Also there was Pascal Chimbonda, who clipped the bar with a cross.
There was a lot of noise, even if one week after a win away at Tottenham, less than 40,000 turned up. Another sign of the times. But after Diouf went close with a 44th-minute header, the volume dropped as City surged. At the edge of the area, Michael Johnson slid in a centre that Danny Collins failed to deal with. Craig Gordon almost saved from Stephen Ireland.
On the resumption, City built on the goal speedily. After Jo wasted a good chance, Wright-Phillips moved centre stage. First Kompany nicked the ball away from the lunging Nyron Nosworthy and Johnson ferried it to Jo. The Brazilian striker’s cross-shot was met by Wright-Phillips on the run. He tapped the ball into an empty net.
With Sunderland drained and disoriented, City struck again, Collins and Phil Bardsley hesitating, Gordon doing the same and Wright-Phillips lifting Michael Ball’s long punt around Gordon and in. That made for three goals in 14 minutes.
“A very bad day at the office,” said Roy Keane, the Sunderland manager, “but there’s no need to panic.”
THE INDEPENDANT Monday, 1 September 2008 By Michael Walker