John Stones – Is he ahead of the times for England?

Written by Dan Anjos

John Stones, a name that bring a lot of discussion to the table. Some are not a fan of his style of football, whilst some love it. Whilst he has done nothing in football to justify his transfer fee, not many transferred footballers over the summer have.

Last year at Everton, he had a poor season but so did the whole team. It is very hard for a young player as a defender to be able to grow when the whole team was performing so badly. As a defender if your team keeps conceding, your confidence decreases making him play a lot worse. But this year he is already playing a lot better under Pep. He is surrounded by better players and with Pep, he knows he is allowed to play how he wants to. His composure at the back is something that Pep wants from his defenders because if you keep the ball the other team cannot score! On top of that all of Pep’s teams have flourished with the tiki-taka system of football, the origins dating back to Cruyff’s ideology. But in England that style of football has not ever been truly practiced making the idea of a defender who can also take his time on the ball a foreign concept. It is true that Stones at times needs to be more urgent on the ball, why is it a bad to have a defender that can pass the ball?

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Concentrating on his weaknesses. For his height, he is fairly weak in the air in comparison to the world’s best defenders. This is something that Man City will have to focus on to make him a complete centre back. Some fans also say how he needs to focus on improving his general defending instead of his fancy style of football. Looking for examples at a team like Real Madrid, where Pepe and Ramos are two of the best centre backs in the game, it is very rare for them not to concede a goal and they do not get criticised as heavily as Stones does. Football has moved on from where defenders were simply asked to clear their lines, they are now the first stage of a teams attack. And with that in focus when analysing his performances, he is one of the best defenders in the league at doing that. He also now plays under the team that has the highest percentage of possession, so he gets less tested now and is asked to do the things he does well.

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credit Ben Sutherland

Looking at John Stones in the context of the English national team, he does look like the best centre back considering his age, quality and potential. Eric Dier another player who started his career as a centre back and is very composed on the ball gets hailed for it whilst 5 yards behind him at times John Stones gets butchered. Obviously Eric Dier’s time at Sporting Lisbon growing up has shaped him to become as good on the ball as he is. So really John Stones is almost unlucky being English as in the majority of other countries his style of football would be highly appreciated. Every defender in the world is not immune from making mistakes so it is very harsh to criticise him so harshly when he does make the odd mistake.

I personally believe that with Pep Guardiola coaching him, and the way he plays football is well suited for City’s style. It will not be long before his occasional erratic defending stops and he becomes one of the games best centre backs. He has all the traits to play for the best teams in the world, so lets stop criticising the lad and support him. He will be a huge part to England’s future success.

What are your thoughts on John Stones? What does he have to change and improve? Let us know in the comments below!

featured image by Jo.Sau