Matt Phillips will next season enter his 14th successive in first-team football, but will he welcome it with Premier League football? And after so many failed attempts, does he now look prepared to take on the top-flight?
Starting out at Wycombe Wanderers, the Scot’s talent quickly became evident. He was, and remains, a very creative winger. He’s good with both feet and can play in a more centralised position too, but on the right-wing is his most suited position. After four seasons at Adams Park – one promotion from League Two and one relegation from League One – Phillips was snapped by Blackpool.
Blackpool under Ian Holloway had just achieved one of the greatest feats in modern footballing history, by finishing 2nd in the Championship and getting their first taste of Premier League football. Phillips had started the 2010/11 season with Wycombe in League Two but he was soon playing in the Premier League, and he even scored on his debut against Blackburn Rovers.
That goal would prove to be Phillips’ only one of the season though, and Blackpool were eventually relegated. In the Championship, Phillips found his footing. He’d looked somewhat lost in the Premier League – he was a teenager who’d just jumped four tiers of English football in the space of a week. But it was a different story in the Championship.
After three seasons with Blackpool, Phillips had scored 17 goals in 103 appearances, establishing himself as a prominent and promising Championship player and landing a move to Harry Redknapp’s QPR. In that 2013/14 promotion-winning season, Phillips scored three goals in 21 league games but missed out on much of the second-half of the season, and the play-off final through injury.
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A second chance at the Premier League for the now Scotland international, but again the story was the same. He struggled to shine in what was a calamitous QPR side and suffered yet another relegation. West Brom was Phillips’ next stop. Back in the Championship in his third season at QPR he again proved an effective player at this level, and the Baggies gave him his third shot at the big time in 2016.
Today, in his fourth season at The Hawthorns, Phillips has once again found himself in the Championship, having suffered his third relegation in four Premier League seasons back in 2018. It’s been frustrating to watch a player with such natural ability do so well for so many different clubs, but never really have a solid platform on which to perform in the Premier League.
Football is up in the air right now and whether or not we’ll see this current season conclude remains unseen. But West Brom have a huge chance of clinching promotion, and for Phillips it’d be the third promotion of his career, and his fifth attempt at the top-flight. Now 29-years-old, Phillips has enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career to date.
Seven goals in 33 Championship appearances has cemented his spot in Bilic’s side. Players tend to hit their peak form at a later age these days, what with all the advancements in physiotherapy and so on, and maybe we’re yet to see the best of Phillips? Of all the teams that Phillips has represented in the Premier League, West Brom would be the most stable, and Bilic seems the ideal man to help Phillips conquer his career-long battle with the promised land.