Pep Guardiola believes Phil Foden is about to enter the toughest phase of his career and that the Manchester City midfielder’s ability to deliver on his talent for years to come will hinge on how successfully he handles the expectation and scrutiny of being in the spotlight.
Foden produced a stunning assist for Ilkay Gundogan 10 minutes before scoring a sublime goal in City’s 4-1 win over champions Liverpool on Sunday, their first victory at Anfield since 2003.
Gareth Southgate, the England manager, was among those present to watch Foden excel in his 102nd appearance for City. Guardiola, asked if managing Foden in the next stage of his development would now be a bigger challenge,said: “Not for me, no. It will be for him.
“He has to be calm and understand the tough periods are going to come. It depends if he’s humble with this and the love for the game.
“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 [to deal with].
“Being there with 100 games [played], yeah it’s difficult, but what is important now is to do 100 more and 100 more at this level and playing every day and winning every day. This is the toughest one [to do].
“That is why the greatest players don’t play one great match in Anfield or play good games, they stay five years in a row being consistent and not being injured and playing, playing, playing.
“This is the next target for Phil. Playing as high as possible as long as possible. It depends absolutely on him and hopefully he can do it.”
Guardiola said the criticism Foden received in September after being sent home by Southgate 48 hours after making his senior England debut against Iceland was a reminder of the need to stay grounded.
“That is why I said to him, ‘Don’t read much or listen much, keep your feet on the grass and keep going’,” said Guardiola.
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