Pep Guardiola has been admirably patient in developing Phil Foden, frustratingly so for English/Man City fans who wanted more than an occasional glimpse of this talented young player. But now, after so much teasing, Foden is off the leash, and, if City’s games since restart are the benchmark, he is reaping the rewards of Guardiola’s management. Look at what he did to Liverpool last night:
No matter that Liverpool were nursing a celebration hangover, this is some devastating football, and the best one-two I’ve seen in a while. Even before the one-two and decisive finish that made Alisson look like Fraser Forster, Foden set things in motion, demanding the ball like a senior player. Such good signs for City and England.
We’ve been here before, of course, blowing the hype train’s whistle for each of England’s Next Big Things. Jack Wilshere springs to mind. Even Jack Grealish currently, although I don’t get the fuss over Grealish at all – he’s done little for Villa that suggests he can be a world beater, save fall over a lot in dangerous positions. Wilshere has more talent in his little toe than Grealish has in both feet.
Anyway, England fans have been burned before. There are so many stories of homegrown players who burned out without fulfilling their potential. Off the top of my head: Michael Johnson, Ravel Morrison, Jack Rodwell, David Bentley, John Bostock, Josh McEachran, Wilshere. Even the ones who succeeded could have been so much more: Gazza lost the plot, Theo Walcott never hit the heights for long, Wayne Rooney let himself go.
So, we’re right to be cautious. But Foden… he looks like the real deal. Barring injury, he will feature for England at next summer’s Euros (hopefully as more than a 10-min sub in the final group game), because his is a very special talent. When Guardiola called him the “most talented player I have ever seen in my career as a manager,” perhaps we should have listened more closely. And now Pep has let his monster out of the lab. Behold, the Stockport Iniesta!