Ex-Manchester City Ace Full Of Praise For This Playmaker: Should Guardiola Hand Him More Starts?

Phil Foden in action during an England U21 Training Session at St Georges Park on May 27, 2019 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

In a recent interview (via Manchester Evening News), former Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips shared his thoughts on Phil Foden and said,

“If I was Phil Foden, you would be frustrated. You know how good you are and you want to play.

“But the way Phil has handled it, he’s been perfect. He’s had his opportunity, so he knows he’s there or thereabouts. And when he has had his opportunity, he’s come in and done outstanding.

“The way he’s done everything and handled it, shows his maturity. He hasn’t spat his dummy out once, and he’s got on with it, and he’s learned from one of the best players in his position.

“I think he could be as good as he wants to be.

“If England and that young group of talent they have that show that much potential when they play – the attacking flair, the passing, the moving, and the counter-attacking football – I think he could slot straight in because he sees passes, he’s very clever on the ball, and he gets on the end of goals.”

Foden’s Frustrations In English Football

Wright-Phillips’ latest comments will please Man City boss Pep Guardiola, who had previously labelled the midfielder as ‘the most talented player’ he has ever managed. With so much hope over Foden’s future, it is easy to forget that he is still quite inexperienced in the Premier League and has only been a sporadic feature in Guardiola’s first-team in recent times.

The Citizens have often used him off the bench as an impact substitute. To the youngster’s credit, he has still managed to perform at a high level, having scored three goals and provided six assists in 23 appearances for Man City this season. However, the 19-year-old has only earned a total of 900 minutes of playing time which is quite concerning especially considering the hype surrounding his attacking potential.

Why The Man City Midfield Ace’s Struggles In English Football Is A Concern

Foden has averaged 1.3 shots, 1.5 key passes and 2.0 dribbles per game in the UEFA Champions League group-stages. However, he has struggled to keep up the same level of performance in the English top-flight where he has only averaged 0.7 shots, 0.8 key passes and 0.7 dribbles in every 90 minutes (stats via whoscored). It seems like the English prospect is more suited to continental football where his accurate ball-distribution and terrific runs from midfield yields better results.

However, he has struggled to showcase his true worth in English football which is a slight worry. Foden’s lack of playing time at the Etihad Stadium could also see him miss out on a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for this summer’s UEFA Euro 2020.

Should Guardiola Give More First-Team Opportunities To Foden?

With Man City now all but out of the Premier League title race after falling 22 points behind Liverpool in the league table, Guardiola could opt to take a few risks in league football with two crucial ties against Real Madrid in the Champions League looming on the horizon. Hence, the Citizens should promote Foden to their first-team so that he can get a regular run of matches in the coming weeks.

Furthermore, the departure of David Silva at the end of this campaign will open up a midfield spot in the Man City starting XI. It would be down to Foden to continue to perform at a high level under Guardiola’s watchful eyes so that he can stake his claim for a regular starting berth at the Etihad next season.

A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.