Phil Foden: The Stockport Iniesta

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OXFORD, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 25: Phil Foden of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his team’s third goal during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Oxford United and Manchester City at Kassam Stadium on September 25, 2018 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Our Local Boy in the Photograph

There was a time when if you were christened the ‘Stockport Iniesta‘ by Manchester City fans, then it was a probably in a moment of morbid humour, born from abject suffering and humiliation. In those dark days such a label would have been spat out in laughter by the crowd at a player who may very well have been the complete opposite. I’m not going to name any names here because that would be cruel, but it would have been the terrace equivalent of singing “Its just like watching Brazil”, which was always sung in those moments when it really wasn’t anything like watching Brazil.

That’s the thing about football terrace humour, a kind of after work camaraderie with your mates whilst under the influence of alcohol, it tended to always be fundamentally good natured – even if the language was industrial. I remember Grimsby Town fans singing to us about what they claimed they did to our fish after we had scored against them. I won’t describe in any details exactly what the Grimsby Town fans were suggesting but rest assured it probably accounts for the smell and taste of battered haddock!

These days though, Manchester City fans talking about local boy Phil Foden being – ‘the Stockport Iniesta‘ isn’t some kind of gallows humour. True it is said in a self deprecating way, and as such has an echo of the past, but the fundamental difference is this Foden kid may actually be that good.

I watched a number of games in the Manchester City Academy where Phil Foden played for the young teams as part of the Elite Development Squad (EDS) and whilst he was always comfortable on the ball, he remained slight physically and subsequently was often over shadowed in games. His slim build was at times emphasised because City made a developmental decision to play their younger teams in higher age groups, meaning in many games our team quite literally looked like boys against men.

Notwithstanding that, Foden didn’t always shine – in a team which comprised a number of other exciting youth products, not least of which were Brahim Diaz and Jadon Sancho. I know it seems like sacrilege to say as a Manchester City fan, but Foden didn’t always look like our best youth prospect. Of course there are lots of reasons for this including the differing rates and ages our youth players develop physically and mentally.

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