Pep Guardiola hopes Phil Foden understands there is plenty of room for improvement but said it is a joy to have the boyhood Manchester City fan starring for his team.
Foden scored a stunner and set up another goal as Premier League leaders City romped to a 4-1 victory over reigning champions Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.
Playing in a central role up front, Foden struggled to get into the game in the first half but thrived in the second after Guardiola had altered City’s shape.
His exquisite strike rounded off a remarkable 10-minute spell late in the second half in which the match went from 1-1 to 4-1.
Two blunders from Alisson had gifted City their second and third goals – Ilkay Gundogan tucking in from Foden’s cut back before Raheem Sterling headed home his 100th goal under Guardiola from Bernardo Silva’s deft lob.
Foden lashed in a fourth from a tight angle to wrap things up and condemn Liverpool to a third straight Anfield defeat for the first time since 1963.
14 – @ManCity have now equalled the all-time winning run by an English top-flight side across all competitions, winning each of their last 14 matches – the same number as Preston (ending in 1892) and Arsenal (ending in 1987). Stupendous. #LIVMCI pic.twitter.com/AjRx833bsO
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 7, 2021
Asked about the Englishman’s performance, Guardiola told Sky Sports: “He’s a guy who keeps the ball really well, he’s really aggressive.
“But still he is so young, he doesn’t understand in some positions what he has to do, so in the first half he was not in the right positions.
“We worked but he is a little bit distracted sometimes in these positions. Playing wide is more easy for him but he will learn.
“After that, the assist for the second goal and then scoring the fourth goal, we know what a huge talent he is, but he’s still young and we are still hopeful that he can understand that he can improve, because in the first half he was not in the position that we needed and that’s why we suffered in some moments to get the control.”
Guardiola had never before tasted victory at Anfield, City’s previous five visits during his tenure having returned four defeats and just one draw.
And, while the Spaniard acknowledged the difference a lack of supporters makes, he was still impressed by his players’ ability to overcome in-game setbacks.
He added: “What’s important is the three points. Of course I’m so proud of the guys. Anfield with people and without is completely different. It’s good, especially when we miss the penalty, concede the goal.
“We react with huge personality. Raheem Sterling, phenomenal. The commitment from everyone. Three points, grateful, happy, but tomorrow feet on the grass and thinking Swansea.
“We are not one player. Gundogan started to be one of the top scorers, we have to do it as a team. We have an incredible captain. In this period, to do wins in a row is so difficult.”
20y 255d – Phil Foden is the youngest player to score and assist in a Premier League game against Liverpool at Anfield. Stardom. pic.twitter.com/RryzSHQ6nb
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 7, 2021
Thanks to their win, City sit 10 points clear of champions Liverpool and five ahead of second-placed neighbours Manchester United at the summit of the Premier League – and with a game in hand on both.
But Guardiola is not getting carried away as he looks ahead to a testing February fixture schedule.
He continued: “I said before, I’m not a guy who predicts the future. In February, five points is nothing. Swansea, Tottenham, Everton, Arsenal, many tough games. Be calm and keep going.
“In England you think February will be softer but the schedule is even tougher. One game at a time. The next one is Swansea.”
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