Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Micah Richards’ BBC Sport column – In defence of Phil Foden – ‘this is a tactical issue, not a player problem’

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Part of Foden’s problem is that, alongside him, Bellingham is doing what he does so well and he wants to be the main man in this team.

The runs Bellingham makes sometimes are positive ones, but they are making it hard for Foden to get on the ball. It was always going to take time for that understanding to develop, but instead it feels like Foden is being judged already, after only one game in this new role.

I am not saying Foden is above criticism, though. Far from it. England’s warm-up game against Iceland was the perfect opportunity for him to kickstart his international career as a number 10, and he did not play well at all.

When Kevin de Bruyne was injured at the start of last season, I was saying how this was Foden’s chance to show he could play that role for Manchester City and he did it.

He was not an extra, or filling in. He was the main man in one of the best-performing teams in the Premier League, and I have been desperate for him to do the same for England.

He still can. Foden has taken stick for not scoring or creating the way we know he can, but let’s give him a game where he is getting on the ball in and around the area, and then make our minds up.

If that happens against the Dutch and Foden is quiet again then I’d accept that we need more from whoever plays in that position, but right now it is too harsh to judge him and, especially, leave him out.

We should also remember the identity of this team. If we had an attack-minded coach and Foden was not playing well then, again, I would understand the calls to bring someone else in.

Gareth Southgate is not that kind of coach, though. He has had success by being defensive and that is not going to change now.

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