Foden helps Manchester City recover their harmony against Bournemouth

Flying Phil Foden helps Manchester City recover their harmony: Pep Guardiola hails ‘diamond’ after he produced one his best performances of the season to inspire emphatic 4-1 victory away at Bournemouth

  • Phil Foden produced an excellent display as Manchester City beat Bournemouth 
  • Foden hasn’t always featured prominently of late but remains hugely talented 
  • Boss Pep Guardiola singled out defender Nathan Ake for praise after the game

When a baby-faced lad from Stockport made his Manchester City debut in 2017, Pep Guardiola gushed with excitement. ‘It’s been a long time since I saw something like this,’ he said. ‘Phil Foden is on another level.’

It was unique praise from a man who played in Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team and went on to coach Lionel Messi and a side of superstars in Barcelona. But it came to mind on Saturday as Foden brought up a double-century of City appearances.

It’s easy to forget Foden is 22. And his 200th City outing comes at what some might see as a crossroads in his club career having fallen out of favour with Guardiola of late. The form of Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez has not helped.

This was one of Foden’s best performances of the season. He dazzled on the right wing, scoring one goal and teeing up another for Erling Haaland.

Foden offers something other attackers do not. His first instinct is to run at players, or to look for penetrative passes. He created seven chances here, the most by any City player in an away game since 2014. He is averaging a goal or assist every 105 league minutes which, by way of comparison, trumps England team-mates Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford. 

Phil Foden produced one of his best performances of the season in the win over Bournemouth

Foden hasn’t always featured prominently of late but Pep Guardiola said he is a ‘key player’

‘If you say I’ve lost trust with Phil, forget about it,’ said Guardiola before this thumping 4-1 win. ‘He’s a key player for us — it’s not about intention, he’s a lovely guy. Foden is our diamond.’

Guardiola is right. Foden can go on to be one of this country’s greatest ever talents. And City look better with Foden in the team. For all the fancy football Guardiola is revered for, the Catalan is becoming more pragmatic. And perhaps haunted by European exits to counter-attacking teams, the manager now prioritises control.

Grealish, Mahrez and Bernardo Silva are crucial to this as City look to play the safe pass to keep possession rather than taking risks. Foden is more direct and looks to cause problems which, at times, has felt to his detriment in team selection. 

But with Foden in the side, and the addition of Julian Alvarez in the attacking quartet, City looked more fluid and dangerous. Ilkay Gundogan took up the role as creator in chief and the captain enjoyed the movement of those in front of him.

Man City manager Guardiola singled out former Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake for praise

The performance was complete with fine displays across the back line. City are more balanced and safer with Ruben Dias at the heart of defence, while Rico Lewis shone from his inverted full-back role.

But Guardiola singled out Nathan Ake after the match. Formerly of Bournemouth, Ake has been City’s most consistent defender and got a standing ovation from home fans as he was substituted.

‘What a signing,’ said Guardiola when asked by a Bournemouth Echo reporter about Ake. ‘We are so pleased to have him as a person and a football player. It shows by the applause he got and the guard of honour he gave himself!’

Source: Read Full Article