Newcastle’s new owners will awake sleeping giant… just like what happened at Man City, says Shaun Wright-Phillips

SHAUN WRIGHT-PHILLIPS knows how it feels when your club gets taken over by wealthy new Arab owners.

The ex-England winger re-signed for Manchester City just four days before Sheikh Mansour bought the club back in September 2008.

Wright-Phillips made 217 total appearances for the Cityzens over two spells, scoring 27 goals


Wright-Phillips made 217 total appearances for the Cityzens over two spells, scoring 27 goalsCredit: Getty Images – Getty

He knew City well from his first spell — and was lucky enough to be part of the Abu Dhabi revolution for three unforgettable years.

So the latest developments at Newcastle have brought back some happy memories for the 39-year-old.

He said: “I can see the similarities. Just like we were, Newcastle are a sleeping giant that needs to be woken back up.

“It’s an exciting thing to be part of — I’m sure it will all feel a bit surreal. It could be an incredible ride for them.”

But SWP also has some words of advice for those currently trying to get their heads around a whirlwind couple of weeks on Tyneside.

 The current Toon squad have to put their worries over the future aside and ‘up their game’ if they want to remain part of the journey.


The new owners have to make the club a place where big stars will want to come and play, by improving the facilities.

Get the transfer strategy right — by first getting players who will help them away from relegation trouble rather than superstars.

Build a relationship between the owners and those on the ground in the North East, just like Etihad chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak did.

Wright-Phillips barely had the chance to put his bags down after returning to the Etihad from Chelsea before everything changed.

He scored twice on his second debut at Sunderland — but within 24 hours the club was in new hands and they had broken the British transfer record to sign Robinho for £32million.

You just think they are going to go out and sign loads of stars

Shaun Wright-Phillips

SWP said: “As a player you have a tendency to think, ‘Oh my God, who are they going to sign?’.

“You know the new owners have got all the money.

“Three days after they signed me they were breaking the transfer record to sign Robinho.

“I’d only just arrived, so I didn’t feel too worried but I think some of the other players did.

“You just think they are going to go out and sign loads of stars.

“I can remember the chat at the training ground — all the speculation about who might come in.

“I’d understand it if the players at Newcastle are worrying but the challenge is for them to prove they are good enough to be part of it.

“Everyone has to up their game. They can’t sign before January and the players there now have a part to play, because they need points to get out of relegation trouble.”

City’s old training ground had barely changed in the three years he had been at Chelsea.

But within weeks of the takeover, there were little signs the owners meant business.

Man City signed Wright-Phillips aged 17 after he was released by Nottingham Forest


Man City signed Wright-Phillips aged 17 after he was released by Nottingham ForestCredit: Getty Images – Getty

SWP said: “We started to notice a few changes. The facilities got better, there was a new gym,  I remember how the food improved too.

“You’ve got to make players want to come and play at the club by offering them the right environment — particularly the foreign players.

“With the budget they have now, they will want to be looking for a certain standard of player, who will be used to having top facilities.”

While everyone remembers the Robinho move, City went down a different route in January.

They went out and bought some established Prem stars to help them move up the league — and the same was true the following summer.

It was about improving the squad gradually.

Shaun Wright-Phillips

Wright-Phillips added: “Tactically,  Newcastle have to get it right.

“I expect them to buy in January, they are in the relegation zone. After signing Robinho, the spending at City in January was much more considered — good Prem players like Shay Given, Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bridge.

“Then the summer after it was Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, again players who knew the league.

“It was about improving the squad gradually.”

SWP recalls that  the communication between the new owners and those on the ground in Manchester was spot on from the word go.

Khaldoon met the squad within a few weeks, while boss Mark Hughes took his players out to Abu Dhabi the following year.

While there, they were introduced to Sheikh Mansour and knew the club was in good hands.

SWP said: “It put our minds at rest meeting them, you could just tell they were going to be great owners for the club.

“At City, it has been years of building and getting big decisions right.

“It was a brilliant time — particularly for the fans after everything they’d seen across town at United. I expect it’s going to be an exciting time for Newcastle!”

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