Manchester City boss Guardiola warns 'special' Foden he has work to do
MANCHESTER, England -- Pep Guardiola described Phil Foden as "special" but warned the Manchester City youngster that he still faces a fight to become a regular.
The 18-year-old scored his first Premier League in just his second start on Saturday and it proved to be the winner against Tottenham to keep City's title hopes in their own hands.
Guardiola has predicted the Stockport-born midfielder has a big future at the club, but says he needs to keep working to fulfil his undoubted potential.
"He has to fight Fernandinho and [David] Silva, he has to beat [Ilkay] Gundogan, he has to run and run and run to convince me he can play, but I trust him -- I trust him a lot," Guardiola told a news conference.
"Of course, with young players you have to be careful. As quick as you go up, as quickly you can go down. Sometimes you have to handle that situation a bit, but we didn't have any doubts.
"Every time he played he was outstanding, he was the top, he was at the level to be a Manchester City player -- and it isn't easy to be in that team, any of these teams like Tottenham. But he's able to do that. He's 18-years-old and that's why I am so satisfied.
"I see him in every training session and he has something special -- and I have seen many players as a manager, so many, and this guy has something that is difficult to find. So he's special, now work hard and you'll see how far he is going."
As well as at City, Foden has been tipped for a big future with England as Gareth Southgate is short of the type of playmaker with touch and vision to unlock defences in tight spaces.
Former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere was once highly-rated for a similar role. Guardiola was in charge at the Nou Camp at the time and commented that Barcelona's reserve team was full of players like Wilshere.
Asked if Barcelona's reserves were full of players like Foden, he said: "No. He's special.
"From the first time I saw him. When I first landed here [sporting director] Txiki Begiristain told me: "Meet one player -- he is 15, 16 years old. You have to know him.
"And I did. After one or two days, he came to our training session and wow. I said: 'You are right, Txiki -- this player is good.'"
Guardiola was not the only coach impressed by Foden's impact with Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino comparing him to Spain and City veteran David Silva.
"He's a fantastic player, it's not easy to play and start at a team like Manchester City," the Argentinian said. "It is a massive, massive achievement for him and for Manchester City. When you watch him play you can feel the quality he has.
"He's a player that can be similar to David Silva, he has the characteristics of a No. 8 with a lot of good quality to play with the No. 9 and he can score, he can shoot, he has the capacity to read games and find space, to create openings for goals, he is a very clever player."
Foden's inclusion added fresh energy after the difficult way they exited the Champions League on Wednesday to Tottenham on away goals.
The teenager believes that City cannot afford any slip-ups in the title race and was delighted to make his mark as City try to become the first team to defend their title in a decade.
"I think this result has picked us up from the other day, we're ready to go, feeling confident, with smiles on our faces and we know we can do it," he told reporters.
"It's all down to us, win all our games we win the league, so we're feeling confident and we are going to give it everything, and see where it takes us.
"When we won the league last time we were miles in front but this is better because we've actually had a a challenge, someone fighting with us. If we can do this, then people are going to have start thinking that we're one of the best teams ever.
"We always push each other each day in training, I couldn't be in a better team right now. Every player wants to fight for the team and we're unstoppable with that attitude, really."