Is Phil Foden too comfortable to achieve his potential?

Date published: Tuesday 7th May 2019 1:51

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What chance has Foden got?
Now that the dust has settled on the initial reactions, thought I’d just throw into
the ring an analysis of what Phil Foden offered, as inspired by an improbable source – Steve Sidwell. There’s a good YouTube series, Behind The Headlines, where legends of yesteryear – Steve Sidwell, Emile Heskey – speak forthrightly about their experiences in football, and Sidwell did about the effect it had on him to leave the cosseted heated-floors all-the-boots-you-want kit-all-folded world of Arsenal’s youth team, to join League 1 Brentford. Where he said the best shower was a hose coming out of a reliably hot tap. He felt that if you don’t ever have these experiences, ‘you end up a space cadet’.

It’s clearly not the most original proposition, but you do wonder if, in removing from him any possibility of a grit installation, by surrounding him only with perfect footballers playing perfect passes in perfect facilities, most of the time (you imagine) feeling like the audience to their excellence, rather than having to get in amongst it, you take from Phil Foden something that is pretty hard to reconstitute. That is, a sense of perspective on what pressure actually is. In the game where he started and scored against Spurs, he was in the side basically because he had a pair of working legs a few days after the Champions League; in last night’s game he was picked to contribute something. If you’ve experienced the pressure lower down the leagues, where performance is linked to more stressful things like ‘the mortgage’ and ‘my family eating’, and have experienced the grit installation necessary to be able to handle that and focus, by the time you get to the top end, as per Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, you can be a beast unleashed.

Foden, you sense, has no means of perspective, is overwhelmed by the pressure of being vaulted into that top end without any sturdier building blocks inside from which to jump off. The feeling like this game is potentially your one big chance at the biggest rewards of all is hardly one that allows you to feel free to contribute, and he was predictably anaemic. That he’s only 18 is why it’s obviously insane to assume too much about the situation; but Jadon Sancho is a few months older, and you know that one of them already has some pretty sturdy blocks on which to base his sense of himself as a footballer, and one of them doesn’t.

Phil Foden is richer than 0.0000001% of all 18-year olds on the planet; staying in the place which lets him be that, never tests him with discovering if his talent can hold up outside an environment perfectly designed for it, all the passes directly to feet, may be the downfall of him as a determined, gritty, go-get-it footballer. This is a pretty hard thing to get an 18-year old head around.

Toby Sprigings


So I keep seeing these Pogba to Real Madrid rumours and earlier in the season I was thinking he will not leave, he is in good form and he is one of our best players and cannot afford to sell him.

Looking at the situation now where United will be playing Europa League next season and must rebuild as well as the fact that Pogba or his agent have not denied anything in relation to the Real Madrid rumours (Not a surprise) showing that Pogba probably wants to leave United, I think it makes sense to sell the guy.

If United could sell him for double the price in which they purchased him for, sell him. He played like shit for the first 3 months of the season, played well again for 3 months once Jose got sacked (Probably snitched on Mourinho despite them winning trophies together at the club) and then decides to play shit again for the 3 months of the season. I know it was one game, but United beat PSG 3-1 away from home after losing 2-0 in a game in which Pogba stupidly got sent off in. This goes to show that Pogba isn’t indispensable. He is lazy off the ball considering the guy is physically a tank, as I have never seen him make a convincing tackle in a United shirt.

He might score goals and make great assists, but only when he is in the mood. This goes to show his attitude is questionable and if United can sell him for 180 Million, sell him and use that money to buy players with good potential and actually try and develop these players instead of throwing them in the deep end to suffer in receiving constant criticism thus resulting in lower confidence in which will lead to poor performances.

I look back at the signing David Gill and Ferguson make for players like Vidic, Evra, Nani, Carrick and Park and think that United helped develop these players for 2-3 years before they hit there peak and delivered week in week out for the club or had a season or two where they were key players. I think United have lost that ability and must be re-found sooner rather than later because the clubs transfer choices on who to buy and sell have been bizarre for the last few years.

It is time for the club to starting making unpopular choices in knowing they are correct in making those decisions. Sell the players or transfer list the ones who are simply not good enough to bring success to the team and re-build once these players have been sold.
Rami, London


…Can I ask why not one person at F365 towers has mentioned the outrageous dive by Fabhino to win the free kick Liverpool scored their winner from? Any other team would be decried for cheating yet the current pool tinted spectacles worn by the F365 crew seem to have washed over this. So yes Liverpool have done well to keep pace with City but the narrative would be very different if the many offside, dived for penalties and outright cheated goals were rightly chalked off.
On to United, oh my days we really are a shambles, a shambles totally at the feet of Ed Woodward and the parasitic owners the Glazers, having a banker in charge of footballing matters has been a mistake from day one, haphazard recruitment a dick waving from Ed (Sanchez and Pogba buys) has turned United into a mishmash of overpaid primadonna’s and out of their depth junk.
Ole needs at least 3 years to bring back any type of competitive team without Woodward sticking his oar in.
The outs list is extensive – Pogba, Martial, Young, Jones, Matic, Lukaku, Valencia, Mata, Smalling and Herrera (my captain). The keeps is a much smaller list – McTominay, Rashford, Shaw, Dalot, Lindelof, Bailly and Lingard (at least he cares) bring in Chong, Greenwood and Gomes and let Ole buy the players who will run through a brick wall for the shirt, not the current shit who only care about their pay packet and their social media profile. Give him time and patience and lets see what happens as knee jerk reactionary instant success bollocks hasn’t worked.
One last thing, the fair weather fans on social media lamenting the fact this is the worse United team on record need to do a bit of homework, the 1973 season when we were relegated to the 2nd Division halfway through the season our 2nd highest goal scorer was Alex Stepney our keeper with 2 goals we won 10 games all season and lost 20, so 6th and an unlikely Champions League quarter final against Barcelona is hardly the worse.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


…For the first time in my 20 years of supporting United, I’m genuinely more excited to find out who leaves us this summer, rather than who we are going to sign.

It’s a sad, sad situation.
MK (likely to get more and more absurd)


…Vincent Kompany is a leader. I recall years ago, he putting Baloteli in his place while on the field.

If he is going to be let go, I cannot see United signing a better leader any time soon. I know it wont happen because Vinnie would not want to go to his bitter rivals. But, what a leader. He would sort out the mess in our dressing room.

Gary Cahill is another one available but i doubt he will be the leader we need.
Sudarsan Ravi


…I know you have to let a lot of knuckle draggers into the mailbox these days to keep the ‘debate’ ( and clicks ) flowing, but that guy who questioned the attitude of the current United squad ( good point ) and compared them to Ronaldo in 2008 – 2009 ( baaaaaad point ) – well, he took the biscuit. In this guy’s head, despite his lobbying for the Real move, Ronaldo had his best ever season in a United shirt, a sure sign of his professionalism and fine attitude. Many of us remember a guy who was injured for a significant section of the start of the season who had an at times unbearably petulant attitude. I was at the final in Rome and you could see Ronaldo playing for his own glory/ forthcoming documentary feature, particularly in one attack where he should have played Rooney in but chose to go for a Vincent Kompany -esque screamer.

Now, he was still Ronaldo all the same, scoring some incredible goals, but in the previous season he won the league and the CL, scored in the final, and bagged 42 goals. To suggest the follow up season where he scored less and won less with a worse attitude was better is, to quote Chris Morris in Brass Eye, ‘rabid, pig ignorant, and stultifyingly ill-informed’.
Pablo, MUFC, Dublin


Double-edged sword
I’ve been thinking about if for a while, and Carlton(Aussie LFC) beat me to it this morning, but what Liverpool need to do to move that final step is to start buying off of their domestic rivals. And Southampton don’t count.

In the past, United have signed off of Arsenal and Chelsea, City off of Spurs and Arsenal, Chelsea off of Liverpool and Arsenal, and so on. It’s now time for Liverpool to start strengthening themselves by weakening their rivals.

They need a CB, buy Rudiger or Adlerwiereld; buy Eriksen to fill that creative void, or as aforementioned, buy Hazard. Granted, I know that the transfer market is broken so this would cost a lot, or Levy would refuse to sell, or whatever, but they’re are now in a position where apart from City, Liverpool are the main club to join in England; a well run club, in a position to win the league, the Champions League (two semi finals in two years!) with a world class manager and players!
Néill, (Arsenal can now strengthen themselves and weaken others by selling their players), Ireland


Cherries on top
The season has been not so much a roller coaster for Bournemouth this year as a sine wave; good start, down for ages in the middle and picking up a bit at the end. Going to end up with either 45, 46 or 48 points which is about the best anyone could have predicted at the start of the year and comparable to the previous two seasons. So this morning’s recognition of Fraser and Brooks on F365 is not surprising and is a pleasing sign of improvement.

I just wanted to pick up on two things. Firstly, both of those players have had long periods on the periphery of games. When we had a long period of playing ‘what’s your favourite 2-0 away defeat’ around new year Fraser in particular was barely involved. Clearly as the style of play has evolved from ball-control to counter-attacking this is not unexpected, however as a fan there are times when both can be frustrating. Fraser’s contract is a big issue at the moment and while every fan would be sorry to let him go I think if it is a necessity then the club need to cash in now rather than letting him walk next year – when again 12th – 13th is likely to be the upper limit of ambition and a costly relegation battle is far from unlikely.

Secondly don’t underestimate the impact of Lerma on this team. £25m is a lot for a water-carrier but look past the stats and he has been exceptional; he is clearly the platform that allows these two guys to remain on the fringes. And on Saturday for the first time we were able to out-sh*thouse a team in the PL. Was Son wrong? Of course he was, but Lerma had blatantly bodychecked him earlier without censure and was clearly well aware what he was doing when trying to retrieve the ball. For the last four seasons a series of relatively modest holding players (Diame, Romeu etc.) have utterly dominated the Bournemouth midfield and so the sight of him in the 94th minute still riling Dele Alli – not exactly a stranger to this sort of thing – was brilliant to see. He is clearly exactly the sort of player you hate in other teams but love in your own, and Bournemouth have lacked such a player for years. Get Lewis Cook fit as the ‘passer’ next season and there will again be reason to be confident, even if Fraser and one of the strikers leave.
Andy J, Bournemouth


Good Kompany
Reading the mailbox this morning I wanted to comment on two different topics.

Can fans (Liverpool) stop referring to the Kompany goal as the one that wins the league. The season is 38 games long and last time I looked City didn’t get 95 points for that win last night. It’s too easy to look at the most recent winning goal and reduce the season to that as the defining moment. It actually demeans City’s entire season and suggests they’ve been somehow lucky with an ageing centre back scoring a wordy to win them the league.
United – good grief, United fans really don’t like their team right now do they? I don’t buy the argument that the players don’t care (Ted this morning). These are professional athletes and to get to that level you have an almost psychotic need to win. And why would they not try? So they can get hammered in the press week in week out? Doesn’t make sense to me. The reality is that some of the players are decent and some not. Money has been squandered of some flavour of the month signings that haven’t worked out. The fans remind me somewhat of Liverpool fans who spent years moaning about players not being good enough to play for the club to the point where you have to ask is there ever a player good enough for them. Blind is a good example of this for United. Constantly criticised in his time at United yet where is he now? Clearly the guy can play but funnily enough when you sign players ahead of him, he’s punted from position to position, barely plays and then is expected to perform when he returns, his form might not be the best.

In a weird way United’s issue appears to be having too much money to spend. They are like City when they came into money. Go and buy likes of Lescott, Santa Cruz etc. Throw enough money at things and you might get some success seems to be the idea. City have only started being more consistent once they actually identified the type of players they actually needed, not just names they felt that the marketing team might like.
Joe, The South


Rashford in Endgame
People like ranking whether some random version of Thor or some hybrid baby of his and Captain Marvel would be Thanos x 1000 on the internet. So I decided to give some of the youth of todays football game a similar run down ( sources wikipedia because I am lazy)

Marcus Rashford – 21 years old – 1997 – 169 appearances – 45 goals

Strengths: Fast, dribbling
Weaknesses: Shooting, finishing, link up play, takes freekicks for some reason
Likes: being told he is like Kylian Mbappe
Dislikes: being actually compared to Kylian Mbappe
Power level: 6/10 (Captain America)

Kylian Mbappe – 20 – 1998 – 156 apps – 88 goals

Strengths: being the closest thing we have to Thierry Henry and Pele’s love child
Weaknesses: being french which is sexy but also means he might spend his whole career at PSG.
Likes: helping out charities and dressing like Neymar
Dislikes: playing with Neymar
Power level: 11/10 (Thor/Captain Marvel baby)

Osmane Dembele – 21 – 1997 – 166 – 53 goals

Strengths: Dribbling, final ball, rapid pace
Weaknesses: His haircut, finishing, his addiction to fortnite
Likes: Fortnite
Dislikes: a decent barber
power level:7/10(Black panther cool)

Frenkie De Jong – 21 – 1997 – 130 – 13 goals

Strengths: Dribbling, long balls, temp control, very handsome
Weaknesses: Isn’t Mark noble, Can he do it on a wet night in stoke, only plays in the ‘easy’ leagues, not Paul scholes
Likes: Sergio Busquets
Dislikes: Real Madrid ( pending)
Power level: 9/10(Iron Man)

I tried to focus on the players in Marcus Age range, so Sancho, Foden, Brewster, CHO ( gosh England have some decent players coming through), De Lihgt, etc are all excluded being under 20, also tried to choose people with a similar amount of games and running time in the spotlight and their top leagues ( Frenkie is quite new for the unitiated internet scout but I myself pride myself on achieving such levels of youtube scouting) so that rules out people like Jovic with only two seasons of top flight football.

I think with honest comparison Marcus is not really performing at the levels of the other 3, there are arguments for different teammates and such which is warranted to a certain extent but I think eye test alone shows Mbappe, Dembele and De jong to just be a bit further developed than Marcus. I for one would buy all 3 of them however I cannot bring myself to pull the trigger on young Marcus. Maybe hype and United’s search for a saviour as altered expectations too much but I realistically think we should look at Marcus as potentially a future squad player in a big sides title challenges, a nice option for the team to bring on or have rotate in the line up.

One thing I will say for Marcu that I think is his biggest downfall right now. His lack of a coherent position, regardless of manager I actually think Rashford himself is very much toooo much of a Hybrid player. Mbappe is a striker, yes he does alot on the ball but his main aim is to run at the option striking god into their hearts. Dembele is similar but is clearly the wide player version of Mbappe, great take on skills but with a nuance for the slide rule pass and some nice 1-2 link up abilities, he excels on the wide or dovetailing with a more centrally focussed forward such as Messi/Suarez. De Jong is clearly a midfielder in the Sergio Busquets mould but with that nice total football feel. I as a Liverpool fan would buy all 3 and would put Mbappe in the centre, Dembele on wide right ( Salah gone to Juventus in this timeline) and De jong next to Fabinho, Keita/ox in the midfield. When I buy Marcus Rashford I don’t know where to put him, this is not just because he is a slight level or two down on the other 3 but also because I genuinely unsure of which position is best, centrally his doesn’t just quite gel enough with other wide forwards, don’t work with a link ma ( at least not uniteds which is understandable), he is not Bobby Firmino levels of ‘non-scoring’ aptitude and team assistance and hell even Ayoze Perez on his day looks more threatening as a roaming forward. I think the biggest task in regards to Rashford is defining his role and letting him work on it, he currently feels and looks like the same raw 17/18 year old that he was 3 years ago.

He could score another 15 goals each year for the next 3 years and match Raheem sterling. The fact that I don’t know if thats good or bad shows how his playstyle and positioning affects the perception of his numbers.

One very important factor is coach.

Pep took Sterling and made him a new sleek fancy model of his former self, from 22 and inconsistent to 24 and being in the second tier of football world star ( yes he can still get better and yes he is not still quite as necessary as Aguero, Suarez, Mbappe etc. but the fact we talking about him getting there is signs of progress) so maybe all Rashford needs is the right coach.

I for one hope do hope one player can emulate Rashford.

Rhian Brewster please get a hattrick against Barcelona

Kind regards
Cole ( Kompany goal was a better way to lose the title than a Dwight Gayle hattrick )

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