Media Watch

Media Watch: Praise for the young guns

Media Watch: Praise for the young guns
City’s dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Leicester provided plenty of talking points…

Some positive, some negative in an eventful clash… but of course, let us focus on the positives – of which, there were plenty for Pep Guardiola’s side.

In particular, the debuting youngsters.

As the Independent’s Gonzalo Cañada reports: “Manchester City’s manager went to the King Power Stadium with a team full of young talents.

“The Ukrainian Oleksandr Zinchenko, the English Phil Foden and the Spanish Brahim Diaz were part of the first XI.

“Pep’s bet could have ended badly and critics would have appeared quickly. However, the youngsters responded with a great performance and sent City into the semi-finals of EFL Cup.

“The offensive play of Foden and Diaz is more evident after every match together, since they understand each other perfectly and sometimes remind of other talented left-feet like David Silva and Leroy Sane.

“There is no doubt that the magic in the left foot has a great future in Pep's team. And the left foot is synonymous of good football, something that the fans at the Etihad Stadium are eager to keep seeing.

MATCH REPORT: Leicester 1-1 City (3-4 on penalties)

Tosin Adarabioyo did not hide in defence and probably performed better than his partner Eliaquim Mangala. Finally, Zinchenko played well at left-back, although sometimes he showed an attitude too offensive, something normal in a player accustomed to playing further forward.”

On Foden, Laurie Whitwell of the Daily Mail agreed: “This was Phil Foden’s first domestic start for City and he showed much and will have learnt more.

“His frame looked even more slender than the diminutive duo of Bernado Silva or Brahim Diaz but his stature was significant, always demanding the ball in tight circumstances.

“He moves so well in possession without the need for tricks and got under the skin of Daniel Amartey to such a degree the Leicester right-back followed through on one challenge.

“A good experience though for the England Under-17 World Cup winner who is not 18 until May.”

The Mirror’s Joe Mewis echoed: “With the Premier League leaders competing on four fronts, their depth will no doubt be tested in the coming weeks and it would appear that Guardiola has plenty of options should injuries or suspensions begin to mount.

“The mobile Adarabioyo put in a decent display at the back, dealing with his former team-mate Iheanacho with ease, Diaz showed some good touches and 17-year-old Foden got more precious minutes under his belt.

“Manchester City fans can be forgiven for getting excited every time they see Phil Foden's name on the teamsheet, as Guardiola looks to gently introduce the 17-year-old into his first-team squad

“After a quiet start, the teenager showed flashes of what he is capable of.

“An inch-perfect ball in from the left just before the half hour mark showed off his natural intelligence and instinct and while he may not have stamped his authority all over the game, City fans can be confident they have a very good young player in their ranks.

“Zinchenko notionally stated the game at left-back but played in a similar role to against Chelsea, drifting into the centre of midfield and helping to flood the centre of the park.

“All of this showed that Guardiola's ideas are getting through to the whole squad and there should be plenty of cogs ready to slot in when needed over the busy festive period.”

Goalscorer Bernardo Silva was also singled out for praise.

Mewis added: “It was Silva who slotted home the opener after 25 minutes, when he benefited from the space created by Ilkay Gundogan's surge forward to prod home in a very efficient manner.

“With two assists in his last two games, Silva is beginning to establish himself nicely on these shores and gives Guardiola yet another potent option as City brace themselves for the busy festive period.”

REACTION: Pep proud of battling youngsters

The Portugal star was named Sky Sports’ Man of the Match, as Charlotte Marsh purred: “Having mostly been playing second fiddle to David Silva this season, Bernardo Silva shone at the King Power on Wednesday, scoring the opener and got himself into a number of good positions to add more for his side.

“He will certainly have given Guardiola something to think about for the busy festive period.”

Elsewhere, on a similar theme, City are represented in Outside of the Boot’s 100-strong list of ‘the best young players to watch in 2018’.

Pablo Maffeo are featured.

On our South American striker, Trong Nhan Doan analyses: “Jesus’s incredible work rate caught the eye of Guardiola, who has often declared it the Brazilian’s biggest strength.

“Making blind side runs, investigating space and closing spaces are the way the Brazilian terrorise the opposing defenders.

“More importantly, Jesus doesn’t get caught offside often, though he operates in the borderline area.

“His lack of physical ability was a concern when he arrived in England but his acceleration and balance made him a dangerous weapon on the ground.

“He is also a versatile player who can play on both wings, using his pace and his offensive awareness to initiate chances.”

On Maffeo, Rahul Warrier reflects: “Not many can come out of man-marking Messi with credit to his name but Maffeo did so and with effusive praise from Messi too.

“While Girona suffered a loss in the end, ironically in part due to the man-marking, Maffeo did his job with determination and the desire to impress.

“By neutralising the dangers that Messi posed, following him around the pitch relentlessly, he demonstrated his ability to follow tactical instructions as well as sacrifice himself for the team.

“Maffeo is not a stereotypical full-back: rather than relying solely on pace, he is much more intelligent and balanced in his duties as a full-back.

“He is not one-dimensional: that sense of control and responsibility is an excellent skill to possess in one’s locker. That allows him to shut out any attacker, regardless of name or stature.”