How Gareth Southgate can get the best out of Phil Foden

  • Foden received criticism for poor performance against Serbia in England's opener
  • Man City star stationed on the left flank opposite Bukayo Saka
  • Commonly works a midfield position for his club and may need a role change
How do ENGLAND get the best out of PHIL FODEN? 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 👀
How do ENGLAND get the best out of PHIL FODEN? 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 👀 / 90min Football

Phil Foden is one of the best players in the world in a Manchester City shirt. However, when he steps up to the international stage his skills seem to falter.

Gareth Southgate appears set on using Foden as a left winger, a position he rarely plays for his club and meaning his main attributes often get pushed aside. He received fierce criticism for his role against Serbia on Sunday night and will need to quickly impress if he is to sway England fans.

But, there is still time for the England boss to awaken the best in the six-time Premier League champion and may need to make some changes to do so.

Here are three ways that Southgate can get the best out of Foden.

Build the team around Foden

Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham
Foden would work in a central role / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

If Southgate believes Foden is the key to unlocking England's success, then he could choose to build the team around the Manchester City star - placing him in his favoured position.

It's clear that Foden shines in the 'number 10' role for his club, but for his national team he is deployed out wide. Southgate may have created an issue in allowing his players to drift freely around the pitch, as it prohibits Jude Bellingham and Foden from having their own space.

If he wishes to play both Bellingham and Foden, then he may need to place the latter in the 10, and opt for the Madrid star slightly deeper in the 8. He risks creating a new Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard situation if he does not give each player their own role - squashing England's chances.

Balance and crowding looks to be a rife issue for England, and Southgate will have to navigate this if he is to see any success in Germany.

Keep Foden on the touchline

England need to have strength on the left side, that is a fact. And if Southgate insists on playing Foden there, he may have to give the star a lesser role and command that he stays on the touchline.

A player of Foden's standard should not be given this fate, but if he is deployed on the left in a fixed position, then there will always be a player on the flank to make a difference.

He has done this before for City and could benefit greatly from utilising a player like Luke Shaw - who could play the role of an attacking overlapping left-back once fully fit.

Southgate has remained clear on his decision to allow players to roam, insisting that it is more important where Foden finishes than where he starts. But, while England's left-back situation remains unchanged while Shaw recovers, Foden may have to take one from the team and work the left flank.

Build confidence and take charge

Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Kieran Trippier, Declan Rice
Foden needs to assert dominance on the pitch / Matthias Hangst/GettyImages

A key attribute that differentiates Foden to others in the team like Bellingham and Bukayo Saka is confidence. Jude Bellingham's presence on the pitch commands respect - he knows the kind of player he is and he works hard to make sure everyone sees that.

Foden, on the other hand, lacks that assertiveness. He certainly has the ability to call the shots and make up his own mind, and cannot rely on others in the team to carry him along.

Cesc Fabregas framed it perfectly after England's opener against Serbia - commenting that Foden simply needs to "want it more than the rest" and cannot be afraid to take risks.

Too much dominance on the pitch could be a recipe for disaster, but if Foden is to shine for England, he needs to take a step up and prove that he is capable.