Pep Guardiola: John Stones has more balls than anyone
Stones put up a defensive masterclass at the Etihad against Liverpool on Sunday, as Manchester City further dented their hopes of a late, late title challenge with a 1-1 draw, as Aguero and Milner scored for their clubs. In the post match conference, City Manager Pep Guardiola reserved special praise for the aforementioned central defender, specifying that he had more balls than any other player on the pitch. One moment of "balls", was a spectacular block to deny a certain Sadio Mane goal, as he pulled Lallana's cross across goal, only to find Stones's 6 foot 2 frame deflecting the ball over the net.
However, there is no denying that the Barnsley product, who cost City 50 million pounds, has struggled to adapt to Pep Guardiola's tactics, despite showing exemplary samples of being the exact ball-playing abilities that Pep admires at Everton. Nervous in one-on-ones, soft in the tackle, he was playing more like a defender who had just come into the first team, instead of showing the experience and seasoning of a player who had been playing in the first team for 4 years.
In the conference, Guardiola had further taken credit for his naivety, stating that Stones had been playing in the exact manner that he had wanted him to play, and that if he showed this determination, he could go on to become a very very good player. Furthermore, he praised his ability to stick to his guns and not change according to the fans' opinions. He also took some criticism upon himself stating that "it is hard to play central defence under this manager".
It doesn't look like Stones is going to change his style of play anytime soon, and he shouldn't too, considering the fact that he could be key in the generation of "modern defenders", defenders off the ball, and midfielders on the ball.