Phil Foden will do his talking on the field – Pep Guardiola

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Andy Hampson, PA
·3-min read
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Pep Guardiola has backed Phil Foden to let his football do the talking.

Foden played a starring role in Manchester City’s memorable Champions League quarter-final win over Borussia Dortmund, scoring the winning goal in both legs.

The 20-year-old, however, was at the centre of a social media storm in the aftermath of Wednesday’s second-leg win in Germany.

Paris St Germain's Kylian Mbappe was tagged in a hastily-deleted tweet from Phil Foden's Twitter account
Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe was tagged in a hastily-deleted tweet from Phil Foden’s Twitter account (John Walton/PA)

Foden was reportedly angered after the company controlling his accounts posted a tweet calling out Paris St Germain striker Kylian Mbappe.

“@Kmbappe are you ready,” it read, looking ahead to the semi-final against the French club.

It was posted just moments after Foden had left the field at Signal Iduna Park. It was later deleted and Foden has apparently since severed ties with the company responsible.

Foden, who is becoming an increasingly important member of the City side, is currently enjoying the best spell of his career in terms of form and opportunities to play.

It was therefore perhaps no coincidence that Guardiola decided to highlight the importance of his work on the field as he held a press conference on Friday.

Foden (right) scored in both legs of City's triumph over Dortmund
Foden (right) scored in both legs of City’s triumph over Dortmund (PA Wire via DPA)

Guardiola said: “It’s not about what we believe in the past, it’s about what they show on the grass.

“Footballers have to show every single day. Journalists talk a lot about the past, talk a lot about the future, but football is the present.

“It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. It’s what we have to do today. Today everybody is involved, talking and social media, but you have to talk on the grass. It’s the only way.

“Everything we get right now is on the grass, not in any other situations. He’ll continue being there depending on his performance, not what he’s done so far at an early age.”

Foden’s superb recent performances have come at the expense of Raheem Sterling, who has had to make do with a place on the bench, but Guardiola sees no reason they cannot combine in the future.

“Of course they can play together,” Guardiola said. “They’ve done it many, many times. Phil can play in five positions, Raheem three. Everyone can play in a few positions. It depends on them.”

Guardiola is now focusing on Saturday's Wembley clash with Chelsea
Guardiola is now focusing on Saturday’s Wembley clash with Chelsea (Rui Vieira/PA)

City’s next challenge in their quadruple quest is Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley.

Guardiola insists he will have no problem getting his side to refocus after the emotional high of Wednesday’s victory.

He said: “It’s much, much easier. Imagine playing after not qualifying for the semi-final of the Champions League. It would be much tougher.

“Of course I would love to have more days to enjoy our qualification, for recovery and to prepare for the game, but the schedule is the schedule and when you are a contender in all competitions you have to handle this schedule.

“There’s no complaints from us, the guys are training well and on Saturday we face one of the best teams in Europe and try to reach the final.”

It will be Guardiola’s first meeting in English football with Thomas Tuchel, who has overseen an upturn in form and toughened up Chelsea’s defence since taking charge in January.

Guardiola said: “He took over a team here in mid season but has a lot of experience at top clubs like PSG and now Chelsea.

“I knew from the beginning he would do a good job. It will be a good battle in this game.”

Guardiola confirmed record goalscorer Sergio Aguero remains on the sidelines with a muscular problem but has no other injury concerns.