It was a gallant Phil Foden who led the fightback as Pep Guardiola’s boys came from behind to avoid a major FA Cup shock at Cheltenham Town and Alan Shearer has compared Foden to Paul Scholes and Gascoigne after his latest Manchester City display.
Pep Guardiola’s men were trailing behind Alfie May’s second-half opener until nine minutes from time in their fourth round tie when a tireless Foden levelled before goals from Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres sealed a 3-1 win and ended Cheltenham’s dream.
With his galvanising performance, Foden had the pundits purring with Alan Shearer drawing comparisons between the young England midfielder and his former international colleagues Paul Gascoigne and Paul Scholes.
“I was lucky enough to play in an England team with Paul Gascoigne and Paul Scholes – two of the greatest midfielders around in my time,” he told BBC Sport.
“The way he handles the ball, his body position, his ability to pass it to the forwards, he’s so comfortable on the ball, the way he receives the ball, he can score goals. I mentioned those two midfielders – Gazza – the way he (Foden) glides, his close control, left foot, right foot. We don’t mention the word ‘potential’ anymore because we’re seeing this on a regular basis now. He’s an incredible player.
“Forget about saying, ‘putting too much pressure on him’, he’s on the biggest stage now and he’s delivering.
“We’ve been waiting a long time and Pep’s been very patient with him – and rightly so – we’re seeing the reward for that now.
“He’s putting in some magnificent performances. He’s the guy that’s changed the game for Man City tonight because Pep’s got him further up the pitch in the second half and he said after the game that he wanted them to play it short because that’s what Cheltenham would struggle with but he was the one that got on the ball and dictated the game in the second half.
Presenter Gary Lineker was also most impressed with Foden’s performance and hailed the lad as “one of the most exciting young English talents I’ve seen in a hell of a long time”, while former City defender Micah Richards also had his say.
Manchester City shrugged off the difficulties caused by a Covid-19 outbreak to sweep aside Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
First-half goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne effectively ended the match before the break with the home side only able to score a consolation in injury time.
It puts the Blues in good heart ahead of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
“He’s compared to a lot of midfielders – 20 years of age, I’ve just been so happy with his improvement over the last couple of years,” said Richards.
“He’s actually played a lot of games for City in his career, but it seems as if he’s the best player on the pitch every time he steps on there.”