Pep Guardiola tells Phil Foden: Slow down

Pep Guardiola and Phil Foden
Pep Guardiola says Phil Foden still has plenty of scope for improvement - AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Pep Guardiola has said Phil Foden must learn how to “play slower” and insisted that the England international still has huge room for improvement.

Foden has been in sensational form for City this season, scoring 24 goals in all competitions so far, but his manager has said he still has plenty to learn if he wants to fulfil his potential.

Guardiola has spoken in the past about Foden needing to play the game at a slower pace and he evidently believes this variation is still lacking from the 23-year-old’s performances.

“Phil has a sixth gear but he can’t play all the time in that sixth gear and sometimes he has to play in second or third,” said Guardiola, following Foden’s impressive showing at Brighton on Thursday, in which he scored twice.

“In time, he will learn that. This was much better than the two or three games before and he doesn’t need to be always so quick. No. Football sometimes you have to play slower so you can be quicker after, to surprise the opponent and this was really good.

“The movement, he chose the right moment to attack and it’s a question of time. He will understand the game through years and years and experiences. It’s going to take time but he loves to play and of course the stats for goals are there and his work rate is unbelievable.

Phil Foden
Foden now has 25 goals for club and country in all competitions this season - NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

“How he runs, presses and does it. At times, we are really pleased and happy for him. We have to congratulate him and hopefully, in the last month ahead of us, he doesn’t stop.

“I would love him to go in sixth gear in every single action but afterwards you are less precise, you lose the ball all the time and that is not effective. You have to reduce the time so you know the moments when you have to be more aggressive and calm.

“But it’s a question of time. He can improve a lot and has improved a lot from the beginning of the season and from the previous seasons. Maybe with the third kid coming for his family [Foden announced the news earlier this week], that will help him.”

Asked if Foden should be in contention to be named player of the year, Guardiola said: “He is one of them. But I have a feeling what he wants is the Premier League. That’s what I think. I don’t know. That’s not my business but he’s one of them, that’s for sure.”

City’s charge for the Premier League title continues with a trip to face Nottingham Forest this weekend. The fixture comes in the midst of Forest’s explosive referee row, following the denial of three penalty appeals in their match at Everton last weekend.

Asked if he is concerned about the refereeing for the game, Guardiola said: “Listen, I go to the game and I never, ever know who is the referee. The first time I know is when I see their face and I go: ‘Oh, I remember that face.’

“Never in my life do I talk about referees before, during or after games. Never, ever, ever. If there’s a mistake then there’s a mistake and we are sad. When it’s in our favour then we are lucky.

“I don’t waste my time. My time is minimal. I have to choose my time, and I don’t spend one second thinking about the referee. They are specialists and I think that for many years in this country.”

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