Pep Guardiola addressed why Phil Foden has only started one of Manchester City’s last six fixtures.
Pep Guardiola says Manchester City’s three performances in their post-World Cup fixtures are among the best in his six-year spell at the club, and Jack Grealish has been crucial to that.
Discussing why Phil Foden has appeared out of favour in recent weeks – he has started just one of the last six City fixtures – Guardiola offered the surprising assessment of the wins against Liverpool and Leeds, plus the draw against Everton.
Much has been made of Grealish’s contribution to City’s play, and Guardiola defended his £100m forward after missing three golden chances at Leeds before registering his first two assists of the campaign. Now, Guardiola has used Grealish as an example to explain why Foden’s minutes have been limited in recent games, as well as offering a warning to his whole squad regarding their body language.
“Phil can play in one thousand positions. I see something on the pitch, in the training sessions, and I use my intuition to use Jack in these games because he gives us extra passes,” Guardiola explained.
“Phil is better when more vertical. Both can play together and combine. The way we played against Leeds, knowing their defence was completely different, was really good.
“The way we’ve played in the last three games is one of the best since I’ve been here.”
Guardiola has now welcomed back striker Julian Alvarez, who will increase competition for places in the attacking positions to support Erling Haaland.
And in discussing his selection choices, Guardiola offered an intriguing warning to his players over their body language in training and if they are not playing.
He said: “We have to play with 11. We can’t play with 13. Every time it is difficult to choose for me. Always top players are not playing. Lately, as I get older, I mainly look at the body language. In the training sessions and everything.
“You cannot play good when the body language is not correct. Sometimes you choose the players for how happy they are, if they are there. That is one of the main decisions with choosing the line-up, because with the skills, I know how good they are. The body language depends on them and sometimes they are not good and it is more difficult.”