Kalvin Phillips wants to stay at Manchester City despite making only two Premier League starts this season – both once the title had been won. The midfielder has promised to “come back fighting” and takes heart from how others have needed a year to adapt to Pep Guardiola’s methods.
Phillips joined City from Leeds for an initial £42m last July but started only two games of any consequence: an FA Cup win at Bristol City and Carabao Cup defeat at Southampton. He was accused by Guardiola of being “overweight” and not in condition to train or play after returning from the World Cup. Phillips said after scoring for England against North Macedonia as a substitute on Monday that only another season of inactivity would prompt him to consider his City future.
“My intention is to stay there,” he said. “We have just won the treble, so there is no reason for me to leave, other than if I am not playing I will obviously have to think about it. I cannot give it 12 months and say: ‘I am not playing so I am going to leave.’ As you have seen with many players at City, it can take quite a while to cement yourself into the team.”
The 27-year-old, unable thus far to dislodge Rodri, has discussed with teammates the difficult transition sometimes experienced when joining the club. “I spoke to quite a few of the players about it,” he said. “Nathan Aké being one; Jack [Grealish]. They all said the same: the first 12 months were the hardest of their City careers but after that it … it doesn’t become easy, but easier. I’m just going to go away for the off-season and enjoy myself with my family and girlfriend and friends and then come back fighting.”
Phillips believes he is close to mastering what his manager wants. He referred to “how difficult it is to understand the way Pep wants to play and how quickly you need to adapt” and said: “I am on the brink of almost getting it. Obviously there is a little bit of work in pre-season and hopefully [it will] be all right.”
He intends to have a discussion with Guardiola. “I will definitely speak to Pep. I don’t know whether it will be in the summer because everyone enjoys their downtime and everyone wants their space away from football, so I’ll probably leave it until I go back.”