Should Phil Foden have started against Burton Albion?
By Joe Harker
Barring the most improbable upset in football, Manchester City have won their Carabao Cup tie against Burton Albion. The first leg of their semi final was a 9-0 win for the Premier League champions which is just about as secure as it gets. Somewhere between the second and ninth goals Burton surely realised they weren't going to overcome the current Premier League champions.
The only real point of contention was the decision not to start young talent Phil Foden, who was brought on after 58 minutes when City had just scored their fifth goal. The youngster got on the scoresheet himself a few minutes later but some watching the game wondered why he hadn't been named in the starting lineup. Surely a Carabao Cup game against League One opposition would be the perfect opportunity to start the most promising player from your youth academy?
City manager Pep Guardiola explained the decision not to start Foden, saying he wanted David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne to get minutes together going into the second half of the season. De Bruyne spent much of the season out injured so the manager wanted him to start playing alongside City mainstay Silva.
Top Premier League clubs are under more scrutiny for not giving enough chances to their young players, City in particular after Jadon Sancho left for Borussia Dortmund and Brahim Diaz was sold to Real Madrid. Both are talented young players touted as the future of City who have decided they would get more opportunities elsewhere. Sancho's excellent form in particular makes a compelling case for seeking a transfer if your current club aren't giving you chances.
Foden has said he won't follow the examples of Diaz and Sancho by leaving City, he is determined to stay and earn himself a place. He signed a new long term contract last year and his goal is to become a first team regular in the team.
That might require some patience as he plays in the same position as Silva and De Bruyne, two of the best players a the club, Foden may have to wait until Silva's career starts winding down and hope the club doesn't splash the cash on an expensive replacement.
Tyrone Marshall of the Manchester Evening News believes the next 12 months are important both for Foden and City's youth academy, in which the club has heavily invested. The club have made a lot of money from youth player sales but they also need to show that there is a chance to become a first team regular.
With Sancho and Diaz gone Foden is the jewel in the crown of City's youth academy. His talent is clear for all to see and his attitude shows commitment to becoming a success at City, if he doesn't make it as a first team regular other players will be wondering what their chances are going to be.
There is nothing wrong with selling talented players from your youth academy for a tidy profit but if there is no pathway from the youth team to the first team a bad reputation will develop. Much rests on the success of Foden.