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‘The best team in the world’: Under Pep Guardiola, Manchester City feels ‘unbeatable,’ says Phil Foden. Here’s why


By Callum Sutherland and Amanda Davies, CNN

(CNN) — For Manchester City star Phil Foden, two major influences have shaped his soccer career: his late grandfather and current manager Pep Guardiola.

His grandfather passed away aged 47, the same number that the midfielder wears on his jersey as a tribute. “He always said to me that I’d be a footballer, but maybe wouldn’t think I’d achieve so much at such a young age,” says Foden.

Described as his biggest supporter growing up, Foden remembers his grandfather as taking him “everywhere I wanted to go.”

Last year, City completed the Treble – winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League – and given the focus of his manager, Foden believes repeating this feat is more than realistic.

In his eight years at Manchester City, Guardiola has created a squad atmosphere that has been at the heart of the club’s success.

‘We seem to just keep getting better’

When asked how he keeps his feet on the ground, Foden responds: “It’s easy for me to do that, but I think it comes from the manager.

“If you look at our team, there’s not anyone who thinks they’re a superstar. It’s such a team game and we all participate in winning the trophies.

“We can say we’re the best team in the world… We’ve worked so hard for it,” he continues.

In Dubai earlier this month, City picked up the 2023 Globe Soccer Award for Best Men’s Team, alongside a Best Coach award for Guardiola and three other individual player awards.

“It just shows how far we’ve come … we seem to just keep getting better and keep winning trophies,” says Foden

“The manager makes everyone better … how intense he is in training, he’s always pushing players to the next level.”

Part of this winning culture also involves keeping squad players hungry. Foden says: “The manager just throws you in when you least expect it, so you have to try and be ready and fight for your place.”

The 23-year-old has seen this hungry appetite amongst younger players, namely Rico Lewis and Oscar Bobb who, like Foden, came through the academy.

Lewis has steadily worked his way into the team with 24 league appearances over the last two seasons, while Bobb’s goal recently snatched victory for City in its thrilling 3-2 Premier League win at Newcastle United.

From Stockport in Greater Manchester, Foden is a lifelong City fan and joined the club when he was just four years old. In 2016, he moved to the senior team in Guardiola’s inaugural season.

“I don’t know anything else, I’ve not had another manager,” says Foden, who has been a major cog in City’s success during his career, claiming five Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League under Guardiola. In all, Foden has won 14 trophies with City.

‘When we’re at the Etihad, we feel unbeatable’

Former Chelsea and England international defender John Terry was also in Dubai to pick up the Globe Soccer Player Career Award and spoke in admiration as to what City has achieved in recent years..

“What I love about Man City is they bring a player in that they’ve been working with … They know where his roots are, they know about the family,” Terry told CNN Sport.

“I think the work behind the scenes that Pep and the football club do is incredible … They could break records this year and go again. I firmly believe they will, I don’t think anyone’s near their level.”

Under Guardiola, the Manchester club has so far won 14 major trophies in eight seasons.

For Guardiola and his squad, the goal this season is to secure another Treble.

“It’s realistic now, it’s been done by us. We know what it takes … I think it’s going to be harder to do it this year because a lot more teams want to beat us,” said Foden.

At home, in particular, Manchester City has dominated. The club went unbeaten at the Etihad Stadium in 2023, last losing at home over 14 months ago.

“With the confidence knowing that we’re the best team in the world, and especially when we’re at the Etihad, we feel unbeatable,” says Foden.

However, one looming cloud that currently overshadows City is that last year the Premier League charged the club with more than 100 breaches of the league’s finance rules.

City is accused of failing to provide accurate financial information in accordance with Premier League rules from the 2009-10 season until the 2017-18 campaign.

The charges relate to breaches allegedly committed between 2009 and 2018. The club has also been charged with failing to co-operate with the league’s investigation that started in 2018.

After Manchester City was charged the club said it was “surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches of the Premier League Rules, particularly given the extensive engagement and vast amount of detailed materials that the EPL has been provided with.”

“The Club welcomes the review of this matter by an independent Commission, to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position.

“As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all,” added City, which was acquired by The Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008.

City currently sits second in the league, five points behind Liverpool, but recent form suggests they will once again be one of the favorites for the title. The pair meet for the second time this season in Anfield in early March.

In the Champions League, the club faces Copenhagen in February in last-16 round.

And next up is a fourth-round FA Cup tie against Tottenham on Friday. For Guardiola and his side, the relentless fight on all fronts goes on.

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