Pep Guardiola hails Phil Foden's return to form after FA Cup display

‘He struggled a bit and was a bit down, but now he’s back for the best bit of the season’: Pep Guardiola hails Phil Foden’s return to form as Roy Keane praises City star’s honesty and says ‘the low will help him long term’

  • Phil Foden’s talent has been subject of interest since he was just a teenager 
  • The 22-year-old starlet scored twice for his side to mark a return to his best form 
  • Re-live the FA Cup Fifth Round action as Manchester City beat Bristol City 3-0 

Pep Guardiola was effusive in his praise of Phil Foden following the England star’s role in Manchester City’s 3-0 win over Bristol City on Tuesday night in the FA Cup Fifth Round clash at Ashton Gate. 

The Spanish manager hailed the 22-year-old’s ‘impact’ in the game during a season in which he has found game time hard to come by. 

Foden himself admitted after the game that he has beens struggling with ‘one of the worst parts of my career’ this campaign, complaining of discomfort in his feet and a more liminal role in the side. 

However he scored twice against a valiant Bristol City side, leaving his manager heaping on the compliments for bouncing back from a low period and putting in the work to get himself back among the goals. 

Guardiola also noted that much has been expected of Foden since he first broke onto the scene as a teenager, with his promise subject of heavy scrutiny. 

Phil Foden starred with two goals for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Tuesday night

He opened the scoring for City after just seven minutes before doubling his tally 16 minutes from time

‘Dynamic, rhythm, work rate, his quality,’ Guardiola told ITV sport on Tuesday evening in a post-match interview. 

‘His career was always up, up, up. This season he struggled a bit and was a bit down. But now he’s back for the best bit of the season. His impact has been amazing. Football pays off when you work like he does.’

Foden scored twice – his side’s first two goals of the night – to set the Citizens well on their way to another last eight appearance in football’s oldest competition. 

His first came after just minutes, before a deflected strike doubled his tally 16 minutes from time, followed by a stunner from Kevin de Bruyne to make it 3-0. 

But Guardiola was not the only one to hail the youngster’s ability to deal with pressure, despite being just 22 years of age.  

‘It’s nice he’s come out and admitted to that when we speak about the importance of mental health,’ added ITV pundit Roy Keane. ‘He’s had a few injuries and when you’re not playing it does affect you.

‘We question Foden getting up to speed in the next few games, or the last couple and he’s very much up to speed. ‘

‘But it goes to show the challenges football players, I know we regard them as high-class problems, but it’s still a head job when you’re injured and not in the team. It can be very, very difficult but he’s bounced back and looks back to his best.’

Guardiola was quick to lay heavy praise on Foden following his stunning display on Tuesday 

Roy Keane suggested that the ‘low’ period in his career will actually benefit Foden in the future

‘He’s been under pressure from a young age. Big demands, challenging for trophies, playing for England there’s big expectations. 

‘Sometimes that takes its toll on a player, and it might have done over the last few months, so it might have done him the world of good. 

‘Because it’s crunch time for City for the next few months and he’s got the spring in his step, and maybe the break and having the low will help him long term.’

The 22-year-old has made 31 appearances this season, but has failed to reach 60 minutes of action on 12 occasions in the Premier League – already seven more than the whole of the last campaign. 

And although Man City are safely into the last eight of the FA Cup, they are sat second in the Premier League behind leaders Arsenal, and their Champions League future is still in the balance after a 1-1 draw with Leipzig in the last 16 first leg. 

As such, Guardiola will want to be able to call upon every single member of his star-studded squad with the games coming thick and fast, and if Foden can repeat his performance from Tuesday night he will hand the Spaniard a helpful headache. 

And Keane’s colleague on the night Ian Wright was equally effusive in his assessment of the youngster’s display against Bristol City, with the Arsenal legend also touching on the expectations place on Foden from a young age. 

And ITV colleague Ian Wright added that Foden will hardly be used to not having struggled for minutes throughout his fledgling career

‘I thought it was interesting was Pep said about him always being at a high level, we’re talking about from the age of 7 or 8, since he’s been there and the elite coaching that he’s had,’ Wright said.

‘He’s obviously someone who’s not used to not playing, so when he’s not playing he’s going to be down. When you look at the quality, some of the touches, some of the movement, what he was doing today shows his quality. 

‘Against this level of opponent, the Bristol City players would have got off this pitch and said, wow we come up against a proper player today. 

‘He done everything, his touch, his passing, his running with the ball, his movement and obviously the goals he scored as well. he was brilliant today.

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