League Insider - Phillips
Rob Parrish salutes evergreen forward Kevin Phillips in the latest installment of our weekly feature.
Last Updated: September 12, 2011 1:48pm
Blackpool's signing of veteran striker Kevin Phillips may not have grabbed the headlines, but it could certainly prove to be one of the shrewdest moves of the summer.
The diminutive forward opened his account for the Seasiders in typical fashion at the weekend, with a far post header after escaping his marker followed by a second-half tap-in to secure a 2-1 victory over Peterborough.
Despite celebrating his 38th birthday last month, Phillips' predatory instincts remained undimmed and the natural ability to find the net which has served him so well throughout his impressive career shows no sign of fading.
Few strikers can boast a striking ratio to match the former Baldock Town man, who averages just under a goal every other game throughout his 17-year professional career, with only a solitary season at Aston Villa significantly below that benchmark.
Quite why he was only offered eight opportunities with England remains a mystery, particularly during the most prolific period of his career with Sunderland, where he scored 116 league goals in 210 starts over a six-year period, including his 30-goal term in the 1999/2000 Premier League when he romped to the Golden Boot honour.
Over a decade has passed since that season when Phillips terrorised defences up and down the land in the top flight, and it is well worth noting that only two men - Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo - have matched his efforts since.
The march of time naturally dulls the physical abilities of the body, but the nous and wherewithal to be in the right place at the right time always remains, as the former Watford, Southampton, West Brom and Birmingham man demonstrates.
Under-used as an impact player during his time at St Andrews, Phillips clearly became frustrated by his time on the bench under Alex McLeish and a move away from the relegated Blues always looked inevitable, with Ian Holloway happy to snap up the free agent on a one-year deal.
"You cannot put a price on people like Kevin Phillips," Holloway admitted this weekend. "He's scored goals throughout his career and if he does it throughout this season for us, we'll make a real statement in this league."
The Bloomfield Road outfit have certainly made the ideal start - ignoring their Carling Cup exit with a much-changed side to Sheffield Wednesday - with maximum points from their opening two games and wily operator Phillips doing what he does best.
Alongside Blackpool as one of the five teams with a 100 per cent record in the fledgling days of the Championship are Brighton, with last season's League One winners carrying on the momentum of last term.
Seagulls fans will still be pinching themselves as they settle into life at their plush new Amex Stadium having effectively been homeless since May 1997, with two seasons ground-sharing with Gillingham some 70 miles away before setting up camp at the soulless Withdean Stadium.
But those struggles can now be placed firmly in the past with the 110-year-old club on a firm footing off the field and looking good on it under the guidance of highly-regarded manager Gus Poyet.