Manchester City Academy is in charge – run by Puri Foden.
The 20-year-old scored one for 17-year-old striker Liam Dale Onep and won the Carabao Cup fourth round tie at Burnley next week.
And with Tommy Doyle and Delap also eyeing seven home-grown starlets on a 21-year-old average age team, it was a youth victory for City.
The club was heavily criticized for rarely turning their shiny CFA facility into a conveyor belt of talent – but amid intense expectations, those youngsters are asked to prove they are good enough instead of handing over anything on the plate.
Foden, D’Il and Dap Lap did the same, while defenders Taylor Harwood-Bayliss and Eric Garcia were less likely to be happy to sit deep deep next to Cherries.
Delp is enjoying the limelight as it has become clear that he will make his debut in the game, and the 17-year-old striker showed what all the excitement in the youth ranks has to do with the brilliant debut goal scored by Foden.
The teenage striker is big, aggressive, has a beautiful touch – and he has a clear eye for the goal.
Bournemouth also did his usual EDS trick of picking up a yellow card for an unnecessary barge on the keeper – he needs to improve his disciplinary record.
Guardiola said he would not risk any of his front-line players but in the end he had to share a job-sharing between Rodri and Kevin de Bruyne, as well as using Rahim Sterling and Ben Mandy.
City started with seven academy products on the field, and with a manager who loves his midfielders he will especially satisfy Guardiola that three out of four midfield fours were grown in his 3-4-3-43-3 line.
And with 18-year-old Doyle showing all the aggression of one grandfather Mike, and making sure to pass the other, Glenn Pardo, City had a great platform.
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Fode took on the responsibility of being the main man in a team of 21-year-olds and eight-month-olds at a glorious 20-year-old age – and was also pulled by “older men” – 30-year-old Kyle Waker and 29-year-old Riyad Mahrez.
Foden was everywhere in the first half, putting pressure on the packed Bournemouth defense and then Doyle and Rodri pushed the Blues forward and dropped into tight spaces.
He left a full pass for another 20-year-old Ferran Torres, who was making his first start. He took the ball with his chest, but when it fell it went to the amazing surface, H was pushed very hard and keeper Mark Travers was able to beat the shot.
Next up was Mahrez, the Foden passing pass, which has become a specialty – again saw Algeria at a very tight angle to put Travers in trouble.
At 18 minutes, Stockport Lad got the full ball and was given the perfect finish. He split the defense and Dale – the youngest on the pitch at the age of 17 – showed what all the fuss was about.
He walked away from his marker and, when he went to the left of the box, confidently pushed his shit back into the top corner.
The lead did not last long. The city was in line with the back three, and the Cherries tried to pull them off whenever they counter-attacked.
City’s academy also provided an equalizer like David Brooks – wearing red and backpacks these days – beat Sam Surridge to Zac Stefan.
It wasn’t that big a half for the other young players, Adrian Barnabas, who was spotted in contact, picked up an injury that saw him pull back with tears.
That injury saw Ben Mandy look in the direction of replacing Barnabas and City returned to a more familiar -3–3- to, but they still managed to face a stubborn defense that stuck well.
Guardiola, replacing Kevin de Bruyne with Rodri at the hour mark, is clearly a pre-planned substitute.
The Blues tried to avoid a penalty lottery and then Rahim Sterling was thrown out.
But the chances were slim and City started shooting from a distance. It paid off.
Mahrez smashed the post’s base 20-yards and when he bounced from the shin to the fodder, he skillfully fired his shot into the ground to bounce off the trapped keeper.
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