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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

From little boy to Big Phil, Foden earns Pep praise

Foden's ninth league goal of the season secured the unconvincing 1-0 win that pushed champions City to one point behind English Premier League leaders Liverpool

Our Bureau And Agencies Bournemouth Published 26.02.24, 01:33 PM
Manchester City’s Phil Foden celebrates after scoring against Bournemouth during the English Premier League match at Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth on Saturday.

Manchester City’s Phil Foden celebrates after scoring against Bournemouth during the English Premier League match at Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth on Saturday. Reuters

Gifted as he is Phil Foden has often been overshadowed by Manchester City's big hitters but the England forward is now a world-class performer in his own right, manager Pep Guardiola said after Saturday's win at Bournemouth.

Foden's ninth league goal of the season secured the unconvincing 1-0 win that pushed champions City to one point behind English Premier League leaders Liverpool.

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With Erling Haaland not back to his best after injury and playmaker Kevin De Bruyne used as a late substitute on Saturday, Foden was the spark that kept City's bandwagon firmly on track for a fourth successive title.

Haaland showed great strength to roll his marker and get a shot off that home keeper Neto did well to keep out but the ball fell to Foden who coolly turned in the rebound.

Shortly before that, City keeper Ederson was forced into a save from Milos Kerkez's dipping effort.

The 23-year-old Foden has also contributed seven assists this season and has stepped up to be one of City's leaders on the pitch.

"Forget about the goals — of course they are important — but do you know how he played?" Guardiola told reporters.

"How he controlled. He has become already a top-class player. From a little boy, he has become Big Phil, a world-class player.

"He's so good. He can play everywhere, especially in the central position."

City are now 11 games unbeaten in the league and while Liverpool and Arsenal are right with them in the title race, Guardiola's side are showing again the ability to churn out results at the business end of the season.

They beat Brentford 1-0 in midweek and Guardiola said his squad's durability still surprised him.

"The players surprise me every time, the character, always competitive when they are tired. I adore my players — they are supermen," Guardiola told Sky Sports.

"Winning 0-5 is not a reality. Hopefully we can have a week off soon to rest the legs.

"They are so good. Where we come from, for many years, playing every three days — they (Bournemouth) had seven days to prepare for the game and we always have less.

"We demand too much of our players but they respond. I know people say 'they earn a lot of money' but it (the schedule) is too much. Honestly.

"But business must go on and it surprises me every time how we are still there. Even when they are tired, they give extra. Our fans have to be so proud of these guys."

City could not build on their lead after the break, however, and Bournemouth, roared on by a vociferous home crowd, pinned them back as Marcus Tavernier twice went close and leading scorer Dominic Solanke also had a good opportunity.

City next travel to Luton in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday, before a local derby against Manchester United next weekend followed by the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Copenhagen on March 6.

It is a hectic schedule, but defender John Stones says City can deal with it.

"We thrive off the pressure," Stones told Sky Sports.

"It's just focusing on ourselves — every game is a final for us. They come thick and fast now and we know we have to perform well."

The mark of champions is to accumulate victories even with sub-standard performances and City have proved masters of that in claiming three successive English Premier League titles.

With inputs from Reuters

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