Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips sparked conversation on social media after footage showed the England international looking delighted to be coming on for the final moments of their 3-0 victory over West Ham United on Wednesday evening.
On a night where City striker Erling Haaland broke the Premier League record for most goals in a campaign with his 35th league strike this season, Pep Guardiola’s side went a step closer to winning their third consecutive league title.
Second-half goals from Nathan Aké, Haaland and Phil Foden secured a comfortable victory against the Hammers with the three points all but wrapped up upon Phillips’ introduction.
The 27-year-old has struggled for game time at the Etihad this season following his move from boyhood club Leeds United last summer and footage has emerged of the midfielder beaming when replacing Rodri for the latter stages.
🎥| Kalvin Phillips looked so happy to come on for Manchester City last night 🥺.
— CentreGoals. (@centregoals) May 4, 2023
The cameo saw Phillips’ Premier League appearance tally for the season go up to eight with the midfielder totalling just 405 minutes across all competitions this term and his reaction ignited mixed responses on Twitter.
@rtxvIl tweeted:“I feel really bad for him.”
@Twinkegaardtweeted: “Nah this is so sad pep has him in jail.”
@ErikTenStantweeted: “The face of a man who is going to scam a PL medal.”
@Afcade08tweeted: “this is actually soo sad.”
@HolyAceCartiertweeted: “redemption season coming soon.”
Guardiola revealed back in December that the England international had returned from the World Cup ‘overweight’ and ‘not in the right condition to train’ after surprisingly being omitted from the squad to face Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.
“He’s not injured,” the City bosstold reporterswhen asked about Phillips’ absence. “He arrived overweight. I don’t know [why]. He didn’t arrive in the condition to do training sessions and to play.
“When he will be ready, he will play, because we need him, we need him a lot.”
The excellent form of Rodrigo has undoubtedly been a contributing factor to the midfielder’s lack of starts but other factors have clearly contributed to a tough first season in Manchester.
However, parallels could be drawn to the first season of teammate Jack Grealish who struggled to make the desired impact last season but has been excellent for City this campaign.
Manchester City’s victory saw them return to the top of the table, ahead of Arsenal, with Guardiola’s men having a one-point lead over the Gunners with five matches to go, although they do boast a game in hand.