Pep Guardiola wants to see “shy” Phil Foden knocking down his door and demanding more playing time with Manchester City.
Guardiola called the midfielder the “most talented player” he had worked with during pre-season, but the 19-year-old is yet to start a game this season and has made only two late substitute appearances ahead of Saturday’s match against Brighton.
Guardiola was adamant that will soon change as European and cup games pile up for City after the international break, but he would have no objection to seeing Foden voice frustration over his time on the bench.
“He is a shy guy,” Guardiola said. “I would like him to talk more to me, but all the time I go to him and speak to him.
“He still looks at me with a little too much respect, and after two or three seasons it’s not necessary.”
Guardiola said he expects and wants to hear from his players when they are not getting regular starts, whether it be a teenager like Foden or a senior member of the squad like Fernandinho.
“I like it, I will argue,” he said. “Sometimes I tell them, ‘The reason is because I preferred your mate. I preferred the other one’. With this argument they cannot say anything.”
And the former Barcelona and Bayern coach admitted he can sometimes be persuaded to change his mind by a player.
“Yes, it’s happened,” he said. “Players come before the game and ‘I’m ready to play, I want to play’ and I say, ‘Yes’.
“But I like it when players come and say, ‘I want to play’.”
Foden’s problem is that, in order to get in to City’s midfield, he must dislodge the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan.
“That is the reality in a team that achieved four titles last season,” Guardiola said. “If you don’t have this squad you can’t achieve four titles. Impossible.
“So they have to fight and be patient and don’t complain too much, don’t blame too much, because the time is coming.
“They have to be prepared because I saw today the schedule with all the fixed plan of the Champions League, away, home, and I said, ‘Wow, how many games do we have?’
“Everyone is going to have minutes.”
Guardiola also backed Alexis Sanchez to get his career back on track in Italy after joining Inter Milan on loan from rivals United.
Guardiola had tried to bring the Chile international to the Etihad Stadium but, after United pipped City to his signature, watched on as Sanchez endured a frustrating spell at Old Trafford in which the once-prolific forward managed only five goals in 45 appearances, often relegated to the bench.
“I have a special affection for him as a player, of course, but especially as a human being,” said Guardiola, who worked with Sanchez at Barca. “He’s an incredible, humble guy and a fighter.
“Now he decides to move to Italy with one of the greatest teams in Europe with Inter right now, with an incredible manager in Antonio Conte and I’m pretty sure they are going to do well.”
Guardiola said he has never given a moment’s thought to how things might have been different had Sanchez joined City instead, but said his failure at United was not all his own fault.
“Football players don’t depend on one player,” he said. “You judge it as a failure for just Alexis, but there are many reasons.
“One player might come here with me and not play one minute, it is not for him. But the quality is there, it is always there.
“They don’t play alone, it is not tennis, it is not golf. You play with 10 players against one system of the opponents. Many, many things are involved in one player performing well in the team.”