Pep Guardiola praised Phil Foden’s “flabbergasting” return to form for Manchester City after the midfielder admitted his stop-start campaign has been one of the lowest parts of his career.
Foden picked up an ankle injury at the World Cup and the recent performances of Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish have also limited his game-time but he continued his goalscoring run in a 3-0 FA Cup victory at Bristol City. Foden, who scored against Bournemouth last weekend, scored the first two goals in a win that was sealed by a long-distance strike by Kevin De Bruyne.
“We don’t have any doubts,” Guardiola said. “The impact of Phil has been flabbergasting, awesome. [He has been] getting better, getting better, but in your career you always have ups and downs. He struggled with his ankle a little bit but he doesn’t complain and he’s played with problems. It’s not about the goals but about how aggressive he is. Before he didn’t have the confidence to do it but today he’s done it again. His work ethic, the way he trains, is 100%.”
Foden said he feels fully fit after a difficult spell. “[It has] been one of the worst parts of my career but everyone goes through them and it is how you react,” the 22-year-old said. “Discomfort in my feet and not playing as much. I love to play football and when I don’t I am a bit frustrated. We haven’t won the FA Cup for a while so it is something we have been speaking about and we want to go far and try and win it. The last two games have been brilliant and we look like we are making a step forward now. Hopefully we keep up this form and finish the season strong.”
Bristol City came into the game on a 12-match unbeaten run and their manager, Nigel Pearson, was delighted with how his team stayed in the game against the Premier League champions despite conceding on seven minutes. Foden doubled his and Manchester City’s tally on 74 minutes before De Bruyne capped the scoring.
“The most important thing for us was that we were true to ourselves and we tried to approach the game by playing our own way,” Pearson said. “For 70 minutes it was pretty tight. The players are disappointed about the result and the scoreline but I don’t think we disgraced ourselves. They [Manchester City] knew they were in a tough game.”