Tuesday 15 October 2019

Foster in no rush to face City again after eight-goal mauling

Dejected: Ben Foster. Photo: Getty Images
Dejected: Ben Foster. Photo: Getty Images

James Ducker

Ben Foster was trying his best to communicate, trying to funnel messages through to his Watford team-mates, anything that might help momentarily to slow the siege on Saturday, but it was a futile exercise. He looked around and all he saw in front of him were shell-shocked faces.

Manchester City were gorging themselves on an 8-0 win and Watford, individually and collectively, were completely overwhelmed - dazed, confused and physically and mentally bruised. Pure beauty was also savage.

"You can try [to talk to them], but you can see that the barriers come up," the Watford goalkeeper said. "There's nothing you can do or say to get through to them. It's a human response, they close off. It's so hard to try and change the mentality when that sort of stuff is happening. You're not used to dealing with this kind of thing.

"It was absolutely no fun. As a goalie, coming here in the first place, it's almost an achievement to keep it at one or two goals. Like all the best-laid plans, after 50 seconds it went straight out the window, and it was carnage.

"To go 5-0 down after less than 20 minutes, I was thinking, 'God, this could be double digits.' I was over the moon to get in at 5-0 at half-time.

"From a goalie's point of view, it was just relentless. You could see them opening us up and the chances developing in front of your eyes. It could have been a cricket score. They're without doubt the best team I've ever faced."


This is what it feels like to be in the eye of the storm against the champions, who offered some riposte to the criticism that followed their shock 3-2 defeat at Norwich a week earlier.

Fernandinho fixed his inquisitor with a steely glare and smiled wryly when asked if the performance reminded Liverpool that City would not be giving up their crown too easily. "Liverpool know that for sure," said the Brazil midfielder, who deputised at centre-half here for the injured John Stones and Aymeric Laporte. "They know it."

Watford were crushed 6-0 in the FA Cup final by City last May, but this was something else entirely.

The slaughter took just 53 seconds to get under way when the inimitable Kevin De Bruyne fed David Silva with the sort of raking, pinpoint, inswinging pass that he plays better than anyone else in world football, and City never relented thereafter.

You certainly have to hope this experience does not do lasting damage to Watford's poor Dimitri Foulquier. The Guadeloupe international's Premier League debut was only 18 minutes old when he found his team 5-0 down after Sergio Aguero squared for Nicolas Otamendi to tap home after Silva's quick free-kick had again made a mockery of Watford's shambolic defending.

Fifteen minutes later, Foulquier was off. He will require some careful handling this week.

At that stage, the record Premier League victory was firmly in sight. By the end, City had to settle for just the eight, including a hat-trick for Bernardo Silva, despite hitting the woodwork three times, Aguero missing from close range on three occasions and De Bruyne dragging a shot wide with just Foster to beat after a lung-busting run.

For now, Manchester United's record 9-0 victory over Ipswich Town in 1995 remains intact, but Foster believes it is only a matter of time before City eclipse it.

"They will do it to somebody - there will be a nine or 10 out there soon," the Watford No 1 said. "What makes them so devastating? Their aggression, they are always on it, always on the front foot. Nobody gets a second to think about it.

"Our players are getting the ball passed to them and before they know what to do with it, they've got a Man City player attacking them. They all do it together. Their shape is incredible.

"They're all absolute specimens of men. If you look at them, they're all the same sort of build, not the tallest, but they are all so strong and rapid. Their acceleration and touch is incredible."

Silva, Bernardo and Riyad Mahrez were all superb, and there was a first league start at the Etihad since November last year for Benjamin Mendy. But it was De Bruyne, in particular, who frequently took the breath away.

"Kevin is a special player, sometimes he sees things the other guys cannot see on the pitch, not even those off it," Pep Guardiola, the City manager, said.

"Sometimes I'm a little bit grrrr [angry] when he loses a simple ball and you think, 'How, with your quality, can you lose it?' But he is an incredibly talented player." (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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