Calvin Phillips continues to add more titles to his career despite his rare appearances with Manchester City over the past 18 months.
Calvin Phillips joined Manchester City in the summer of 2022 from Leeds United after an impressive performance under Marcelo Bielsa's leadership, a coach closely associated with Pep Guardiola. He became a key player in England, leading the Three Lions in the UEFA European Championship.
Phillips moved to City for £42 million, considered a reasonable fee for an England international with significant experience in the English Premier League. It was expected that he would quickly adapt to Guardiola's style and integrate well into the team.
However, Phillips disappointed with City, and his presence was disastrous for everyone. The 28-year-old player participated in only 6 matches in all competitions over 18 months, with an average cost of £7 million per appearance in Guardiola's lineup. He did not shine in any game, and City lost half of the matches he started. Despite still being a key player in Gareth Southgate's England squad, he is expected to join the national team for the UEFA Euro 2024.
Phillips does not seem to fit Guardiola's vision, and if he leaves City, as expected in the winter transfer window, he could be considered one of Guardiola's worst signings.
The following report from "Man City Square" reviews what Phillips has contributed during his 18 months with Manchester City:
Injury in his first appearance: After joining City, Phillips was an unused substitute in the 2022 Community Shield defeat against Liverpool. He played only a few minutes in the opening Premier League match against West Ham. His first start for the new team was against Barcelona in a friendly, where he performed well but suffered a shoulder injury.
Return and surgery: After the injury, Phillips did not play for a month. He returned as a substitute in the Champions League against Sevilla and again played as a substitute against Borussia Dortmund a week later. The medical staff decided that Phillips needed surgery for his shoulder problem, keeping him off the field for two months. He returned in early November during the Carabao Cup victory over Chelsea.
Accusations of "excess weight" after the World Cup: Despite his long absence, Phillips was selected by Southgate to participate in the 2022 World Cup. He played against Wales and Senegal, and his performance was not the reason for England's quarter-final defeat against France. However, Guardiola was not pleased with Phillips, and he was excluded from City's lineup after the season resumed. Guardiola commented on Phillips' exclusion, stating that he was not injured but arrived overweight and not in good condition for training or playing.
Another reprimand from Guardiola: Phillips regained his physical fitness and appeared on the bench in the next City match against Leeds. However, he did not play, and this pattern continued throughout the season. Guardiola gave another reprimand, urging Phillips to compete with Rodri, who had become a key player, stating that Rodri should feel threatened.
Strange contribution to the historic treble: While City was on their way to achieving the historic treble, Phillips ended the season with only two appearances in the Premier League, both after securing the title. He did not start any games in the Champions League. He started in the Carabao Cup against Southampton, but Guardiola described it as the team's worst performance since he took charge and substituted Phillips in the second half.
Pledge to stay: Despite his limited participation, Phillips refused to leave City or consider a loan move. In June of the previous year, he stated, "My intention is to stay. We won the treble, so there is no reason for me to leave unless I'm not playing. I've seen many City players who needed some time to prove themselves in the team, and I hope to enjoy my time here."
Wasted golden opportunity: Phillips had a valuable chance to solidify his place in Guardiola's lineup when Rodri received a red card against Nottingham Forest, leading to a three-match suspension. Phillips performed well as a substitute in that match and seemed ready to start. However, he failed the first test, delivering a mediocre performance in the Carabao Cup loss to Newcastle. He was subsequently excluded from matches against Wolverhampton and Arsenal, both of which City lost, emphasizing Rodri's importance to the team.
Guardiola shuts the door: After being absent from matches and not starting for two months, Guardiola admitted in December that he could not imagine Phillips playing continuously under him. When asked about the midfielder before City's visit to Luton, Guardiola said, "I don't know what will happen to Calvin Phillips. He has a good personality. I am very sorry that I didn't choose him. I imagine my team and find it difficult to see him."
Despite Phillips' hopes of salvaging his career with Manchester City, it seems that both the player and the club have come to the conclusion that parting ways is the best option.
Newcastle has expressed interest in acquiring the English star on loan, but City appears to prefer a permanent sale to recoup some of the money spent on him.
Juventus has also shown interest, leaning towards a loan deal. Even if Phillips succeeds after that, his time with City will always be seen as unsuccessful despite winning numerous titles with the team.