Pep Guardiola praised the personality Phil Foden gave to Manchester City as they came from behind to beat Cheltenham Town 3-1 in the FA Cup, but insisted he does not have to fill Kevin De Bruyne’s shoes.
Foden was instrumental as City avoided a huge shock in the fourth round on Saturday, which looked on the cards when Alfie May prodded fourth-tier Cheltenham ahead.
But the England international equalised by turning home at the far post nine minutes from time before Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres sealed progression to the fifth round.
City could have been out of sight by the time May put Cheltenham in front, with Guardiola’s men wasteful in front of goal.
Foden played five key passes, with the fact none resulted in an assist indicative of the poor finishing displayed by City.
With De Bruyne out for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury, Guardiola was asked in his post-match media conference if Foden can help fill the void.
“Phil has to be Phil, Phil does not have to be Kevin De Bruyne,” he replied.
“Phil has to do what he is doing in terms of the bad moments when we were losing, the personality that he gave to the game.
9 – Phil Foden is Manchester City’s top scorer with nine goals this season. He’s netted more goals in 25 appearances this season than he did in 38 games last term (8). Levelled. #CHEMCI
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 23, 2021
“Phil can play in the middle, can play winger, can play in a false nine position up front. He’s playing really well, again in the right moment he scored a goal.”
Joao Cancelo played the cross for Foden’s equaliser after coming off the bench, while fellow substitute Ilkay Gundogan pulled the ball back for Torres to tap in City’s third.
Asked to explain their introductions, Guardiola said: “When you make a change you try to look for something.
“The young two players [Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Tommy Doyle] played really well but the quality of Gundogan and Joao in the final third was so important.
“Gundogan has the sense to score and with Phil and Riyad [Mahrez] in the final third we had the quality for the final pass and dribble and that’s why they came in.”
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