Pep Guardiola still expects more from outstanding Phil Foden

By Sports Desk February 25, 2024

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has lavished praise on “top-class” Phil Foden for his outstanding form, but insisted the attacker can still improve.

Foden struck the only goal in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Bournemouth to move the Premier League champions to within one point of leaders Liverpool after 26 fixtures.

It was Foden’s 16th effort in all competitions this campaign, which equals his previous best tally from the 2020-21 season and made it six goal involvements during February after he hit a hat-trick at Brentford earlier this month.

“Forget about the goals. Of course they’re important, but do you know how he played? How he controls and accelerates. He has become already a top-class football player,” Guardiola explained.

“He was before a little boy, good actions. Now he has become already a world-class top player. So good. He can play everywhere, especially in the central positions, which is really, really good.

“In the middle, I think in the (Club) World Cup in Saudi Arabia, he play really good, he understand more the game. His work ethic and how he runs, everything. He has become a top, top class player.

“He’s young and can improve. Always I had the feeling that Phil always had the sense of goal.

“Always had this sense of he can score. I met him when he is 16-years-old, he train with us and a little bit like Cole Palmer, arrive there and always have the feeling they can score.

“Phil has this incredible ability, this incredible ability to do it.”

Foden’s latest decisive effort made it 15 wins from 17 matches for City who remain in the hunt to achieve another treble after last season’s Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League triumphs.

Next up for Guardiola’s side is a trip to Luton on Tuesday for an FA Cup fifth-round tie, which is the final fixture of a busy February where they have juggled three competitions.

City’s schedule shows no sign of easing though with league encounters to come against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in March.

Guardiola added: “We are tired, but we recover. We’ll sleep good, we’ll eat good and we will be ready for Luton. We want to go through. I know it’s very difficult but it is what it is.

“We played Champions League and all the teams have a long week in the Champions League because the schedule is there. (Then) we played against Brentford and Brentford is dentist. Going to the dentist without anaesthetic.

“Do you know why we played against Brentford (last week)? We played the World Cup in Saudi Arabia, two games.

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“I see the schedule, (every) three days and after Tuesday to Sunday, then we have Champions League and then we have another one. United, then maybe I don’t know FA Cup or Brighton, then after Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa. So, yeah still we are there.

“One point behind after being champions for everything. That is good. I don’t know what is going to happen with my players after they win everything, how they would react? Oh my god. Better than is possible. Impossible, impossible.

“Every year it’s tough, but I love that it is tough. Okay, we accept it. We accept the challenge, that’s for sure.

“We accept the challenge to be good. I know Arsenal and Liverpool, what a team they (both) are.

“And step by step, as much as we are there, we can arrive the last games being there and everything can happen.

“With these players, with this genetic personality and mentality, no matter what competition always they perform and give everything.”

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