MATTY Phillips has come a long way in a short time.
In August he played against Morecambe, Stockport and Oxford.
By October, the list of teams faced was Liverpool, Manchester City and Birmingham.
In between, he had announced his arrival at Bloomfield Road in sensational style, coming off the bench against Blackburn and marking his debut by banging in a goal with his first touch.
Since then, he has been talked about in glowing terms by Ian Holloway and various other pundits, labelled good enough for England and reportedly attracted interest from other Premier League clubs.
The impact Phillips has made has delighted Ian Holloway, who shelled out a rather modest £325,000 for the fleet-footed winger from League Two Wycombe on transfer deadline day.
Business well done, and Holloway couldn’t be happier with his acquisition.
But what he doesn’t want is for people to expect miracles every week. Phillips is 19 and has just three Premier League starts under his belt. He is at the start of his career and is far from the finished article.
Stuffed full of raw talent he may be, but he still needs time and space to develop and he certainly needs people to be patient with him.
Holloway was concerned when the Seasiders lost to Birmingham last week, having given Phillips a rare start.
He wasn’t happy with the reaction of some supporters when the youngster lost the ball.
Phillips started at Southampton in the FA Cup last week and came on early in the second half against Liverpool, frightening the Reds with his pace and knack of being able to find space.
The teenager could start at West Brom tomorrow, even if Gary Taylor-Fletcher recovers from an ankle injury.
When Phillips plays, Holloway wants him to push teams back by running at defenders – and he wants supporters to back him all the way.
“I want our fans to keep encouraging, and when someone like Matty Phillips gives the ball away don’t moan,” said the boss. “I heard a few things when Matt gave away the ball at Birmingham, but that was only because we were 1-0 down at the time.
“It shouldn’t be about winning. It should be about enjoying your game and trying to win. If you don’t win, then so be it.
“I want all of our fans to keep that attitude they had at Arsenal, when we were 6-0 down and they chanted, ‘We’re going to win 7-6’. That’s what we are all about.
“I gave a run to Matty Phillips because he is a very good player and he deserved it.
“But he is only a young kid and it is important that people don’t whinge about what he does.
“After playing against Birmingham, he will know a bit more about this division.
“He will know what it is like to be 1-0 down, and he will know he shouldn’t give it away because he might get moaned at.”
Heading to the Hawthorns, Holloway has the kind of dilemmas managers like.
He could field the same team which did so well against Liverpool, or he could give a few players a breather.
Neal Eardley might come into that category, after playing at Southampton at the weekend. Alex Baptiste could step in.