Phil Foden is the star of the show for Man City against Newcastle
Phil Foden is the star of the show for Man City as he seizes his chance against Newcastle… even Kevin de Bruyne will have been nodding his head in approval at electric display
- Phil Foden starred in Manchester City’s win over Newcastle on Saturday evening
- The England international is being relied upon in the absence of Kevin de Bruyne
- City boss Pep Guardiola has a creative void to fill and Foden is poised to provide
The old football adage that one player’s misfortune is another’s opportunity could well apply to Phil Foden.
The surgery on luckless Kevin De Bruyne’s hamstring that will keep the midfield star out of action for Manchester City probably until the New Year leaves a creative void for Pep Guardiola.
But it is one that home-grown Foden can fill, given Saturday’s evidence.
Of course no-one can completely replace De Bruyne who has been the playmaking force behind City’s success since joining them for what now looks a bargain £50million in January 2015.
Foden, though, can certainly ease the concerns if he continues to operate in the way he did in Saturday’s enthralling encounter with Newcastle, who had been tipped as title contenders by rival manager Guardiola.
Phil Foden starred in Man City’s win over Newcastle at the Etihad on Saturday night
Foden (right) can be the man to fill the creative void in Pep Guardiola’s (left) midfield
Young Foden has been moved around the team by Guardiola, often having to rotate with Jack Grealish on the left flank, and was left out of the starting line-ups for the FA Cup final and Champions League, although he came on to good effect for the injured De Bruyne in both.
Foden is so multi-talented that he could play anywhere, but many observers have always felt a ‘No 10’ type role best suits his prodigious talents.
With two other creative talents, Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez having departed, City have been linked with Lucas Paqueta but that deal seems unlikely to happen now what with the Brazilian facing allegations of breaching betting regulations, quite apart from West Ham’s unwillingness to sell.
So Foden will no doubt know the time is perfect for him to step up and show Guardiola can put away the cheque book and become the team’s main playmaker.
His assist for Julian Alvarez’s goal in the first half showcased all his talent to perfection. He popped up in De Bruyne’s favourite position, just on the right side of the Newcastle penalty area, to control Mateo Kovacic’s forward pass with sublime ease before cutting the ball back with pin-point precision for Alvarez to beat Nick Pope with a thunderous strike.
That one move and goal would prove decisive as City held on comfortably enough for the three points.
Foden popped up all over the pitch, threading passes through to set up openings for Alvarez and Erling Haaland, had a goal-bound shot blocked himself and showed he is willing to put in the hard yards by racing back to dispossess Joelinton.
Despite his slight frame, he can take a tackle too, picking himself up with little complaint after heavy challenges from Joelinton and Dan Burn.
Foden (bottom) has the chance to step up and show Guardiola can put away the cheque book and become the team’s main playmaker
Kevin de Bruyne could be out of action until the New Year as he undergoes hamstring surgery
The star graduate of City’s Academy talent factory has the backing of his team-mates with Rodri insisting he is City’s ‘best player between the lines turning and facing the goal.’
Guardiola has carefully managed Foden since the youngster came into the first-team squad but experience isn’t a problem.
At 23, he’s already clocked up over 221 games in all competitions — scoring 60 goals — and is a five-time Premier League winner.
His manager needed him to step up against Eddie Howe’s impressive team — and Foden didn’t disappoint.
For all the praise that followed their opening day demolition of Aston Vllla, this was a reminder for the Magpies that for all their improvement under Howe there is still a gap to close on the City.
Foden star graduate of City’s Academy talent factory and has the backing of his City team-mates
Foden (right) received rave reviews from pundits after his brilliant showing against Newcastle
Even without the unfortunate De Bruyne, who would no doubt having been nodding his head in approval as he watched Foden take on his mantle.
For Newcastle the result was a familiar story. They haven’t won in City’s back yard since Alan Shearer scored a winner at Maine Road back in September 2000 but their resilient performance underlined last season’s top four finish will be no one-season flash in the pan.
But it was all about Foden last night, and he had the TV pundits drooling. Rio Ferdinand said: ‘Foden has been tremendous. These are the pockets, getting in those half spaces and having that ability to find the next pass.’
And Peter Crouch said: ‘I think he’s the best in the league at getting on that half turn. We asked him before the game to step up and replace De Bruyne and I feel like he’s done that.’
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