Pep Guardiola won't improve John Stones defensively, says Sylvain Distin

Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2020 by

Pep Guardiola won't improve John Stones defensively, says Sylvain Distin

John Stones has struggled with fitness and form in the current campaign

John Stones will not improve as a defender under Pep Guardiola, according to former Manchester City centre-back Sylvain Distin.

Stones has started just 10 Premier League games this term and has featured in the Champions League once from the bench - following last season's title success in which he was left out for much of the run-in.

Since joining the club for £47.5m in 2016, the 25-year-old has played only 81 of a possible 142 Premier League matches, with Guardiola telling Stones in January that it is "in his hands to become one of the best" and reach his full potential at City.

Distin, however, who played for City and was a former team-mate of Stones at Everton, making over 450 Premier League appearances in his career at centre-back, questioned Guardiola's ability to improve Stones defensively.

"No disrespect to him, he is a top manager, but will Guardiola make [Stones] a better defender? I can't see it," Distin told The Beautiful Game Podcast.

"He will make him a better player coming out from the back with the ball - but better defender? I don't see it happening."

He added: "I'm not sure if [Stones] has got that defensive grit. He is an amazing player with the ball, really confident with the ball. As a modern centre-back, yes, he is amazing.

"Did he fulfil his potential? No. He still has a lot to learn and he has to be a lot more consistent. Can he fit in every team? I don't think so either. Definitely he has all the attributes but I feel like something didn't click for him yet.

"He could be much, much better than he is now. When I see that Manchester City would play a midfielder at centre-back when they have two or three centre-backs, as a centre-back that would hurt me greatly.

"That's my job and you take a midfielder to play in my position? That would hurt me. I don't know if he doesn't have the confidence of the manager or if something else but something needs to click with him.

"That means, if you make a costly mistake, because he is being too confident, or trying to force the play from the back, he had a manager who said 'never mind, you did the right stuff, carry on'.

"If you make a mistake and your manager says 'it's fine, don't worry' and the next game or two, three games after you make similar type of mistake and your manager says 'no, this is what I want to do, you carry on, I don't care' you get into a pattern where mentally you feel 'it's OK, I can make a mistake. That's what my manager wants.'

"When you're at a place like City it's okay because they have so much quality but at Everton that would cost us so it's difficult.

"I know he has reacted well every time, but I'm a bit scared that because of the last two managers he has had that put him in that pattern of 'it's OK to make a mistake, don't worry'."

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