Man City mailbag: Phillips, Foden and the impact of fees on transfer plans

Thanks everyone for submitting your questions. I’ll be brief here so I can expand a bit on the actual answers. There were a couple of questions about Ederson’s model that will require further investigation, so I’ll try to write a full article on it sometime soon.

here goes…

Why doesn’t Phillips stand a chance? – Ben W.

A mixture of injuries and the usual first season struggles most players have, but there is also some concern from Pep Guardiola and the coaching staff about him. how He snaps. They want to see more of him, on and off the training ground. The fact that Guardiola revealed his fitness problem after the World Cup alludes to this.

Guardiola desperately wants to be able to join Rodri – “for the benefit of all of us, Rodri can’t sleep, he has to feel like there’s someone close to him” – but at the moment it’s nothing like similar situations with Jack Grealish, as he didn’t quite click last year. But Guardiola was happy to give him plenty of chances.

Jack Grealish scored for Manchester City in their win over Arsenal this week (Picture: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

With Phillips, there is a lot to prove beyond the initial teething problems many new players have. Plenty of time to make it right, though.

Hi Sam, any news on what’s going on with Laporte? – Connor M.

It’s hard with Aymeric Laporte because on the one hand I feel so sorry for him, on the other hand it’s a case of the usual “no bad faces” policy and that makes it hard to have sympathy.

I suppose it’s a “chicken and egg” situation: does Laporte have the right to feel sad about not playing? I have a lot of sympathy that he played a lot of pain at the end of last season when City didn’t have any decent central defenders and he was a big reason they won the league. He needed surgery as a result, he’s missed a lot this season, and now he can’t get a series of games even when he’s been playing well.

I think the answer is whatever your justification for the inconvenience is, you need to get over it, but I sympathize with him because he did so well and sacrificed so much last season.

Do you think Pep will stick with Bernardo at left-back for the rest of the season? Where is Foden? Do you see him playing on the right? – Devadata b.

The Bernardo experience is interesting because it’s a bit like what I said about Rico Luis when he started against Leeds: if Guardiola tried it in a big game like this (Leeds vs Luis, Arsenal for Bernardo) he would basically try it. Anywhere.

It gives City an extra player in midfield and in Bernardo’s case he’s already a midfielder, so it’s better than doing it with Lewis or Kyle Walker, but then the downside is he doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing left-back. In some games, the positives will outweigh the negatives. They may not have done it on Wednesday night but they will in the future. That’s why I think he could stay, or at least come back every now and then.

For Phil Foden, this is the now classic scenario where a big/famous player comes out and people wonder where he fits in, but now the answer is that he doesn’t automatically join the team, so he can’t be pressured. At the expense of others, though diverse.

But – as in all other situations with big/famous players – he will get chances due to his crowded fixture list/potential injuries and he’ll have to take those chances. A bit like Robin Dias lately.

What’s going on with Foden? Grealish and Mahrez picking up the ball and running at people lately. When Foden plays everything goes backwards or inwards. Is this Pip inviting him to control her a bit? Because if that’s the case, it feels ineffective compared to previous seasons. – Graham M

Yes, I think there is a bit of an identity crisis going on, due to the need for better expression. Grealish and Riyad Mahrez understand exactly when to speed up the game or slow it down, and this is a process Foden goes through. It’s mainly about adding gears to his game, as he’s generally played very direct, much like Kevin De Bruyne. When Foden played in midfield in domestic cup matches in January, he was surrounded by players with such gears in their game, so they could dictate the tempo and Foden could be the driving force – the way effective midfield works Rodri / Ilkay Gundogan / Bernardo ( gears) and De Bruyne (driving).

I think when Foden plays wide there are two things to keep in mind but they will be related to the same point: In some games (not all) Guardiola will tell him to be more careful with the ball, bring the ball in and find others (especially this season because they generally try to go slower so they can control games with Erling Haaland in the squad). A byproduct of this, Foden may be second-guessing himself as he sees what other people are doing, and is told to do the same, but it doesn’t quite come naturally. Then it becomes inactive.

But this whole season it’s basically a tactical process to get everything to click and that’s something that needs to improve.

All that said, there has clearly been a bit of a ‘bad face squad’ since the World Cup, most notably causing Joao Cancelo’s transfer to Bayern Munich, and Foden falling into that camp. They seem to be moving through that, so it will be interesting to see how Foden finishes the season and whether City finds more cash overall.


Go deeper

How Cancelo’s relationship with Guardiola deteriorated and reached a point of no return

Do you think having left-footed and right-footed wingers (like Leroy Sane/Raheem Sterling a few years ago) would help get the best out of Haaland? Seems crazy because he’s scored so many goals at this point! It’s been great for us, but you know there’s always room for improvement on this team! Pep mentioned changing this on Villa’s comeback on the final day to get people in first and second place (Gundogan!) to score. Haaland has the instinct to know where to be and I think when it comes to the Champions League we need him to keep scoring if we have a chance to win. – Curtis L.

I’m just going to scratch the surface here (imagine what Guardiola could tell you if you asked him) but I can give you some thoughts on the matter. I remember the middle of the 2020-21 season when City were very full for a couple of months but then spring to life, Guardiola said part of the reason for restarting it was to get back into the wide wing. It certainly helped in the beginning, but they went back to Foden wide on the left and an inverted winger on the right, and I think over time Guardiola went back to the thinking that led them into the 2019-20 struggle anyway.

By that I mean Rodri was fresh that season and Fernandinho was playing central defence, so Guardiola sent everything into the middle to avoid everything and it made City counter-attacking more difficult, because more men in the middle made it easier to win. ball return. But this led to a lack of liquidity. I think it’s similar now: City came out of that slump with a return to wide wingers but also a false 9, giving them an extra player in midfield and more control. with the ball.

With Haaland they don’t have that extra man near the front (but they still have that extra man with the full-back going into midfield, and Bernardo is probably the best at it). But the problem is that they don’t have an extra player on the field, especially against low blocks, and because they don’t have a false 9 to string it together, they try to control things in different ways – slowing down and shortening the game. Passes so you don’t lose the ball so easily and wingers turned over, so things are a bit tighter (although Grealish/Mahrez can stay out when waiting for the ball, allowing spaces for Gundogan to run into).


Go deeper

Why Silva’s left-back against Saka was a mistake and how Ake’s move gave City control

So, I’m wondering how the evolution of this tactical process to suit Haaland this season eventually goes: either City will reach out to Grealish and Mahrez and continue to work as they have recently (but may struggle against deep defenses as they did earlier in the season), Or at some point, Guardiola came up with a solution to expand the wings again, as happened in December 2020, without making City more open in the middle.

Guardiola doesn’t think fast wingers like Sane and Sterling are the answer anymore, but Foden’s wide left still has a place because he has more precision in his game and is a cross between a midfielder and a winger (on the contrary, this makes him more fit than sane But less than Grealish!).

But the problem is not about the wings themselves, it’s about protection from the counters without the false 9 being the “extra man”: as a result, they are narrower again.

What’s going on with the midfielders? I’m mainly asking about a potential record jam with potential returns for Maximo Perrone, Phillips, James McAtee and Foden’s future. I don’t see how we can fit them all. I’d love to hear more about Peroni’s case. – Mohamed A.

I think it’s very funny because on the one hand there is a clear scenario where Bernardo and Gundogan could leave this summer, and then nobody worries about midfielders being jammed! Certainly not if the answer is the three you mentioned. Don’t get me wrong, Phillips was bought to contribute a lot, McTee is very exciting and he’s doing well at Sheffield United and Pironi looks interesting but I need to see more of him.

But if they are replacements for any departing I don’t think it will be a hopeful fan base next season. So, be open to at least one midfielder leaving and at least one coming in, and some of the people you mentioned are not necessarily the answer.

With the recent charges leveled against City and the possibility of the case dragging on for a long time, what does that have to do with City’s ability to sign as potential targets might stop considering landing at the Etihad? – Scott C.

I wrote a bit about this in the Initial Reaction article, but basically, Citi proceeded as usual: On the Monday of those charges, I had meetings with the agencies about signings, which is a great example of that.

How the players themselves are affected depends on each individual: some might think twice. All I can offer is that City went through the process of signing players while the Champions League ban was hanging over them. I have spoken to some of the people involved in those deals and they said City are very confident of beating the charges and their confidence has convinced the agents/players to move forward with the negotiations.

City are confident of themselves this time around, so that could shed some light on how things play out, but of course you can’t dismiss a player who doesn’t take any chances.

(Top photo: Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)


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