Men's Team

Guardiola: Stones' transformation deserves respect

Guardiola: Stones' transformation deserves respect
Pep Guardiola says John Stones has his respect for the way in which he has turned around his Manchester City career.

The 26-year-old fell down the pecking order last season, starting just 16 games in a campaign disrupted by injury, but has been in resurgent form in a team that currently boast the best defensive record in the Premier League.

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It has arguably been the best period of Stones’ City career and Guardiola admits the centre-back deserves credit for changing his fortunes at the Etihad Stadium.

The Spaniard acknowledged the England international could have allowed last season’s difficulties to get the better of him, but has been impressed with Stones' response, who he says looks a totally different player.

“What I want for my players, all of them, is to be happy,” said Guardiola ahead of City’s trip to Burnley.

“He struggled to be happy here. Especially for injuries, for some personal problem and for many reasons - lack of minutes because I didn’t see him like he is right now.

“In the past he was not like he is right now, with stability, happiness, commitment and focusing.

“That’s why I give a lot of credit to him because he overcame this situation himself.

“He could have fell down, he could have even gone even more down but it was completely the opposite. He said, ‘No, I am here, I know how good I am’.

“He didn’t need my confidence. He didn’t need the words or the minutes.

“[He said] ‘I know who I am, I know I am a top central defender and I am going to show you, the Premier League, England and the world that I am good’.”

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Stones needs just three more starts to eclipse his tally from last season and, providing he stays injury free, looks set to continue to play an important role as City bid to win back the Premier League.

He has looked confident, leading the back four with authority alongside Ruben Dias and in returning to top form Guardiola believes Stones has proved he has a characteristic shared by all great players – the individual drive to be the best they can be.

“The player who needs confidence to play is mistaken,” he added.

“They have to have the right mentality. They have to feel they are the best and when that happens you can play.

“I give minutes to everyone, not just one or two players.  Sometimes there are exceptions, but most of the time they play. When this happens, it is your moment. You don’t play for me, you play for yourself.

“The best players I have trained in my life, they don’t play for me, for the media, for the club. They play for themselves to show they are the best and when that happens they don’t need nice words or compliments.

“John overcame the situation himself and that’s why he deserves all my respect and he deserves a big compliment.”

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