Pep Guardiola says that Phil Foden must play the game at different speeds to maximise his enormous potential, slowing down during decisive moments close to goal.
The Manchester City manager offered rare insight into where he feels Foden must improve as he discussed the 20-year-old’s boundless energy, his desire to operate at full throttle all the time or, to borrow the phrase that he used, to “eat the world”.
Foden scored his fifth City goal of the season in Tuesday’s 4-1 Carabao Cup quarter-final win at Arsenal and he created another for Aymeric Laporte with a perfect cross. Guardiola, whose team host Newcastle on Boxing Day night, has not counted regularly on Foden in his Premier League starting lineup. But he has no doubt that the timing will come for a player he says has “everything to become something unique and special”.
“Phil has an incredible energy but in the final decision, the final pass, he has to slow down a little bit,” Guardiola said. “He needs experience to be calm in some [moments]. He plays football in the same rhythm and football must be played in different rhythms. Sometimes you have to walk, sometimes you have to have rhythm and sometimes you have to change the rhythm.
“In the final third, especially in the box, the top, top players have patience. They have this second of time or half-second of time to be disposed to take a decision.”
Guardiola was asked how many goals Foden could score if his composure improves. “A lot,” he replied. “Sometimes the last part of the last action is a little bit … But it’s normal at his age. He will get it, no doubts. I know we can trust and rely on him all the time.”
City have scored 19 goals in 13 league games – an unusually low return – and Guardiola talked about the need for a reset. “We have to play better. Our game has to come back and we have to restart in the way we play. The goals don’t come from a present from Santa Claus. They come from the way we have to play.
“Sometimes you need to refresh the principles. There are things you have to readjust about the behaviours, about the reality of who we are as a team and sometimes you need more time than you expect.”