London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has urged Phil Foden to keep his feet on the ground amid growing acclaim for Manchester City’s bright young star.
Foden has been one of the key figures in City’s surge to the top of the Premier League.
The 20-year-old midfielder underlined his quality with a virtuoso display in Sunday’s 4-1 rout of Liverpool.
During City’s run of 14 successive victories in all competitions, Foden has delivered six goals and three assists in his last 10 starts.
The way he tore Liverpool to pieces in the closing stages at Anfield was hailed by pundits as a ‘coming of age’ moment for a player whose potential has been obvious for some time.
But City manager Guardiola believes Foden still has room for improvement and told him not to get carried away with the hype.
“It will be different for him,” Guardiola said on Tuesday. “He has to be calm and understand the tough periods are going to come. It depends if he’s humble for this.
“The expectations at that age, we’ll see if he can handle it. Now people will expect him to do exceptional things every game. This is the most difficult thing.
“The greatest players don’t play one great match at Anfield. They stay five years in a row being consistent, not being injured and playing, playing, playing. This the next target for Phil.”
Foden’s 100th City appearance came against West Bromwich Albion at the end of last month, but given the excitement around the academy product, there has long been an impatience for him to play a bigger role.
Foden was sent home in disgrace by England last year after he and Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood brought women to the team hotel in Iceland breach of Covid-19 protocols.
But Guardiola never lost faith Foden over that incident and always felt he would overcome his initial struggles to break into such a talented City team.
“We cannot forget that he was competing at a young age with David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio (Aguero), Gabriel (Jesus), Raheem (Sterling), Leroy (Sane),” Guardiola said ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth round tie against Swansea.
“Sometimes he played when he didn’t deserve to. Normally we want to increase it and talk a lot, a lot, a lot about Phil, and then after that we punish him for one mistake in his private life.
“That is why I said to him, ‘Don’t read much or listen much, keep your feet on the grass and keep going’.
“Now it’s just calm. I know Phil is ready to play because his physical condition is extraordinary, his recovery and the way he runs in many moments without the ball in the game, but I’ll handle it the same way I handled it.