Pep Guardiola has backed match-winner Oscar Bobb to serve Manchester City for “many, many years” – if they can keep hold of him.
The 20-year-old came off the bench at Newcastle on Saturday evening to snatch a 3-2 victory which catapulted the reigning Premier League champions right back into the thick of this season’s title race.
Bobb’s imperious control and nimble-footed finish, prompted by the brilliance of fellow substitute Kevin De Bruyne, left Guardiola purring, but fully aware that another of his emerging talents could follow Cole Palmer, now plying his trade at Chelsea, out of the door at the Etihad Stadium if he cannot give him the football he craves.
The City boss said: “We have another player for many, many years – if he decides to stay. Maybe he decides for now he is happy with those minutes.
“Cole Palmer was happy with those minutes, but after two or three years, they want more and it’s natural, it’s completely understandable. Maybe I don’t give them those minutes and they decide to go there.
“If he decides to stay, we have a player for many, many, many years.”
Bobb’s cameo at St James’ Park capped a thrilling night of football characterised by a display of increasingly bewildering finishing.
Bernardo Silva gave the visitors a 26th-minute lead when he nonchalantly flicked Kyle Walker’s cross past Martin Dubravka, but they were pegged back by Alexander Isak’s delicious strike 10 minutes before the break and found themselves behind two minutes later when Anthony Gordon repeated the dose.
City dominated the second half without finding a breakthrough until shortly after Guardiola sent on De Bruyne for his first league appearance since August with 21 minutes remaining, and it was he who levelled with a pinpoint 74th-minute effort.
The game appeared destined to finish all square until a minute into stoppage time when Bobb collected De Bruyne’s pass with the deftest of touches, side-stepped Kieran Trippier and stabbed the ball past Dubravka to win it with his first league goal.
Guardiola decided to take Bobb on the club’s summer tour to Asia on the recommendation of director of football Txiki Begiristain and has been richly rewarded since.
He said: “Txiki at the end of the season, he said to me he that Oscar Bobb in the under-23s was the best player by far. Then I said, okay, go to Japan, start to train with us and immediately Oscar got something that is the most important thing, relying on his mates. It’s more important than relying on the manager.
“When the mates can say, ‘Okay, this player can play with us’, that is for the best success, and it was immediate.
“He can play in five positions – striker, right-winger, left, in pockets – he is so dynamic, the work ethic is unbelievable. He doesn’t feel much the pressure.
“An important part of the season is November, December, a lot of games. Important players were not there and Oscar helped us, and that is great, it’s really, really great.”