Pep Guardiola has doubled down on his recent praise of Phil Foden by hailing this current campaign as “his most influential season” yet following his second career hat-trick and man-of-the-match performance on Monday night.
Guardiola had already described Foden’s role in Manchester City’s form over recent months as “decisive” prior to the 3-1 win over Brentford, but his incredible showing away at the G-Tech Community Stadium has only seen him heap further praise on the 23-year-old.
Although Man City did concede the first goal around the 20-minute mark straight from a goal kick, the number 47 did manage to equalise just before half-time to get his side firing.
The Stockport-born City and England forward then went on to grab a header for his second — the only one he’s scored for the Blues since his first goal against Spurs back in 2019 — before eventually making it three thanks to a quick lay-off from Haaland. It was the Phil Foden show and Pep loved every minute.
As you can see, while the Catalan coach has never made a secret of his love of Foden and huge faith in his talent, so many goal contributions and trophies later, and it now looks like the talk of him being a ‘promising young player’ has long since shifted into a senior star enjoying the best football of his career.
Recently stating that he thinks the local lad now “understands the game a little bit more”, it’s clear that the 53-year-old now trusts him to help run things just as much as the other leaders on the pitch, even going so far as to say, “He will take over from Kevin and Bernardo in the future – that is going to happen”.
One of the most impressive things in Pep’s eyes is also that “he can play in five different positions”, adding that his ability to arrive both in the 18 and six-yard box continues to improve, playing both “simple and aggressive” as well as becoming an even more “clever runner” as time goes on.
As for Foden himself, while he confessed he likes playing “anywhere in the middle”, he insisted that he’s just happy in this current run and doing whatever he needs to for the team, having now registered eight goals and seven assists with half a season still left to play. Some return, that is.
Now boasting regular minutes for his boyhood club and making an impact week in and week out, it seems to just be a case of remaining consistent for the youngster and further cementing his place in one of the most elite starting lineups most players could ever hope to compete for.
Moreover, as the pundits in the Monday Night Football studio were already licking their lips at, the prospect of players like Foden, Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice in a midfield three is one that will be very exciting for England fans in general ahead of Euro 2024. Where do you think his best position is?
You can watch the highlights from City’s away win against Brentford and Foden’s hat-trick down below:
Featured Images — Sky Sports/Manchester City (via Instagram)
Man United striker Rasmus Højlund set to miss Manchester derby as muscle injury rules him out for ‘two to three weeks’
Man United have suffered a pretty big short-term blow as their in-form forward Rasmus Højlund has been diagnosed with a muscle injury which is set to see him out for “two to three weeks”, meaning he will likely miss the upcoming Manchester derby.
The Danish striker has been running red-hot of late, scoring seven in his last six league games for Man United and now sitting as the club’s top marksman with 13 goals and two assists across all competitions, but just as Erik ten Hag’s side look to have got going, they will now be without him for a spell.
Issuing an update on Friday, 23 February, United confirmed that a muscle injury is “expected to rule him out for two to three weeks”, meaning he will miss this weekend’s fixture against Fulham, the FA Cup fifth round against Nottingham Forest and most likely the Manchester derby.
The Red Devils are currently unbeaten in 2024 and on a run of six wins out of their last seven, with Højlund making the difference in many of them.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game at Old Trafford, ten Hag went on to explain: “It is a small injury. That is what happens and the risk [when you are] playing at high intensity and training.”
The Dutchman reiterated, “As I say it is not a big injury, but he has to wait for one, two, three weeks”, though Reds will nevertheless be gutted to see the 21-year-old sidelined after having now started finding the net and putting together such an impressive run of performances.
While he emphasised that it is not a “big injury”, the timing couldn’t be more frustrating for a team that looks to be finally gathering some momentum, not only in and around the European places already but right on the trail of those chasing down the Champions League spots.
Højlund’s injury only adds to the club’s ever-growing list of players on the physio’s bench, including Tyrell Malacia, Mason Mount, Lisandro Martinez and another huge setback in Luke Shaw’s long-term hamstring problems.
In contrast, Manchester City have been lofted by comebacks from both Erling Haaland, who is getting back on the scoresheet once again, and midfielder maestro Kevin De Bruyne as they look to step up the pressure on league leaders Liverpool.
The treble-winners were always going to be putting in a very strong title defence but the return of KDB has reminded football fans just exactly how good he is. The Belgian was left on the bench against Brentford due to “minor niggles” but you can fully expect him to be raring to go come derby day.
Stockport County create a new community mural with young street artists in Edgeley
Stockport County is creating a brand new mural with a group of young street artists from the local area and a little help from one of their squad members.
This past February half-term, the Greater Manchester football club enlisted the help of some schoolkids and aspiring artists, along with local creatives from around the area to create a brand new piece of artwork right in the heart of the community.
With some paint, plenty of spray cans and the expertise of Manc muralist and designer, Oskar With A K, and poet Ruth Awolola, a dozen local secondary school pupils helped write, design and paint the mural — taking inspiration directly from the club and the thriving fan culture in Stockport.
There is no chant more iconic and important to the Hatters than their famous ‘The Scarf My Father Worse’ song and that’s exactly what the local artists have decided to immortalise.
The painting process began on Friday, 16 February and, as you can see, they even managed to rope in County defender Ethan Pye came along to lend a hand with the mural, armed with a can of spray paint to help the young people bring their ideas to life.
Being developed by the Stockport County Community Trust in collaboration with North West organisations, GRIT Studios and The Writing Squad, ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ project has received £14,800 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Popping in a prime location on the corner of Castle Street and Mercian Way — just metres away from the Edgeley Park stadium and right at the beginning of the local village high street — this vibrant work of art will be passed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians every day.
Being brought to life in brilliant blue and white in line with the club’s colour scheme and proudly printing the title of the famous chant on the wall along with stencils of the County crest, footballs and many other details, it sits pride of place in the Stockport suburb.
Much like the historic chant and the symbolic scarf itself, this brilliant piece of street art will be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come, as well as make sure the club continues to play a key role in local culture.
County’s Community Trust CEO Alison Warwood said: “This project shows how art and writing by young people can make a real difference to the local community, and I can’t wait to see the end result.”
John Macaulay from GRIT Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in such a collaborative and community-spirited initiative. Our young artists will be helping to create a lasting landmark that will become a focal point in Edgeley for years to come.”
With the Hatters currently top of the League Two table and looking at yet another promotion season, there feels like no better time for fans to wear the club on their sleeve, their scarves around their necks and now up on the wall too.