Pep Guardiola has fiercely defended John Stones after the centre-back’s recent mistakes.
Manchester City made the England international the most expensive British defender of all time when they signed him from Everton this summer, but as yet, he hasn’t established himself as he would have hoped.
Stones has one notable thing in common with Guardiola, and that’s his insistence on playing the ball out from the back. Oddly enough, both have stood by this philosophy even when it’s been to City’s detriment this season, but the manager clearly doesn’t want him to change.
Glenn Hoddle recently described the former Barca boss as “like an over-indulgent father who never reprimands his son” with regards to the£47.5million man, but Pep has now hit back with an explanation.
“With John you cannot forget, in his career, he only played one game a week,” he said, via the Sun.
“Now he plays three games a week in places like the Nou Camp against Lionel Messi. He didn’t play one minute at the Euros, now he plays 90 minutes, 90 minutes, 90 minutes.
“Of course he has to improve, but not now at the beginning. He’s 22, that’s what’s so nice about my job to help him develop, to not discriminate in how he wants to play.
“To help him be more aggressive, how he has to drive to the ball, to pass quicker. He has to make a lot of mistakes and I will do it in the nicest way possible, for sure.”
He isn’t exactly disproving Hoddle’s point, though, indulging the 22-year-old further by comparing him to Barcelona star Gerard Pique.
“Gerard Pique, when he started, was quite similar to Stones,” he added.
“Gerard came to Manchester and was playing not so often. But over time he grew stronger.”
City travel to Crystal Palace this afternoon on the back of a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough last time out and in the knowledge they need three points to pile the pressure on title rivals Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea.