Shaun Wright-Phillips reckons Manchester City have handled their wealth better than Chelsea have over the past couple of decades.
Both clubs, who face each other later today, went from stinking to stinking rich within five years of each other, with Roman Abramovich buying Chelsea in 2003 and Sheikh Mansour's Abu Dhabi United Group taking over City in 2008. In the years since they've hoovered up trophies like mosquitos at a blood bank, leaving their rivals with comparatively empty veins.
That said, since Pep Guardiola's arrival at the Etihad in 2016, City have, for the most part, been outshining Chelsea, winning 13 major honours in that time – seven more than the Blues' tally. This is no accident, according to Wright-Phillips, who played for both teams during the early years of their respective takeovers.
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Speaking exclusively to Daily Star Sport, the ex-England international said Man City's plan to make it to the top of European football was clear from the start, whereas Chelsea's approach was a little more chaotic.
"Given what City have done with the money, the players they've bought, the infrastructure they've built down to the academy and what they've done to the stadium and the areas around Manchester, you have to say City [have handled things better than Chelsea]," Wright-Phillips told us.
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"The longevity and how well they're doing still is so impressive. Not to take anything away from the way Chelsea did everything. I thought Roman did everything right for the club, but the difference is with City they're doing it year after year after year, and that's not something that comes easy. The mental challenges behind that and knowledge of the club to keep getting better and bigger."
Nearly three-quarters of the trophies City have won since their takeover have come in the Guardiola era. They were initially lagging well behind Chelsea, who won more than double the honours City did in their first decade after the money arrived, but are now just one trophy behind the London club's overall haul of 19, despite starting the race five years later.
It speaks to City's long-term planning, and the trust they've shown in the entire process. Wright-Phillips, who re-joined the Citizens a few days before the Abu Dhabi United Group took over, says it was clear from the start that the owners knew what they were doing.
"We all knew what they wanted to do and how they wanted to achieve it. We didn't think it would happen so quickly but the managers and signings they made along the way made that all possible," he said.
"[Roberto] Mancini, [Manuel] Pellegrini, Mark Hughes I thought did superbly. Now you've got the main man Pep who's probably the best manager the Premier League's seen in a very very long time, if not ever. He's taken the game forward, raising the standards of other managers like [Jurgen] Klopp, [Mikel] Arteta, [Roberto] De Zerbi and [Mauricio] Pochettino. There are so many managers that have progressed from what Pep has brought to the table."
Wright-Phillips began his career at City, emerging from the club's academy in 1999. He made over 180 appearances for them before being snapped up my newly-minted Chelsea in 2005. The midfielder landed the first pieces of silverware of his career at Stamford Bridge, winning the Premier League in 2006 and the FA Cup in 2007, but left in 2008 after failing to nail down a starting spot in the team.
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He re-joined City, but a sudden influx of players following the club's takeover gradually forced Wright-Phillips to the peripheries of the squad and he departed after just three years. Stints at QPR and in the States with the New York Red Bulls and Phoenix Rising followed before the midfielder hung up his boots in 2017.
City, who face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge later today, are favourites to land a fifth-successive Premier League title this season and will go back to the top of the table with a win. The Blues, meanwhile, are hoping to capitalise on their 4-1 win over Tottenham on Monday, which was their first victory over a 'top 6' side since January 2022.
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