Pep Guardiola has revealed just how long he has known about how talented Phil Foden is, while explaining the thought process behind giving him a more prominent role in the Manchester City team.
The English youngster scored the winning goal against Tottenham Hotspur for Man City on Saturday, in what was just his second Premier League start.
There have been calls for Guardiola to somehow find a way of getting more gametime for the 18-year-old, despite the abundance of talent in City’s midfield. Indeed, Foden’s selection in such a big game turned out to be justified at the weekend.
And Guardiola made no secret of how highly he rates the teenager.
“This guy is special,” he said.
“From the first time I saw him, when I just landed here, [director of football] Txiki [Begiristain] told me, ‘You have to meet one player, 15 or 16 years old’.
“In the first season he came to training sessions one day, two days and I said, ‘Wow, you are right Txiki, this player is good’.
“But with young players you have to be careful. As quick you go up, as quick you go down.
“Sometimes you have to handle those situations but we don’t have any doubts. Every time he played he was a stunner, he was top. He has the level to be a Manchester City player and it is not easy to play in those teams, the big teams.
“I see him every day in training sessions. He has something special. I have seen many players as a player and as a manager and this guy has something difficult to find.”
The game against Spurs appeared to be one of the hardest fixtures for City in the title race, but Guardiola put enough trust in Foden for him to start. The City boss revealed that his decision to name Foden in the starting lineup came from a hunch that he would do well.
“[It was] my inspiration,” he explained.
“I was in an office, I said I want to give him [a go], that’s all.
“Managing is not a book like you follow the rules. Sometimes it is something I feel – this guy has to play today, do it. [It seems] it’s a good decision because we won.”
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