John Stones caused a tense moment in the Match of the Day studio on Sunday after Phil Neville defended his former teammate from Alan Shearer. The pundits were analyzing the Citizens disastrous display against Everton. Stones has failed to live up to expectations since joining the Manchester club and this loss against his former club where he was accused of making numerous mistakes was just one game of many this season with a similar line of inquiry. Betting tips sites are already talking about him moving on!
While some may say it is harsh to judge a man who is only 22 and starting his career the truth is that Stones has over a hundred Premier League games under his belt and is the 23rd most expensive player in football history. That counts for something. But for Phil Neville on BBC Match of the Day he blames all the other defenders and not Stones. “I actually feel sorry for him,I actually think he’s been let down so badly by his centre-back partnership, and the full-backs he’s been playing with.”
This is ignoring however some blatant mistakes by the English international. His positioning and rash tackle led to plenty of room behind the defense you Everton youngster Tom Davies to get his first goal for the club. This must be insult to injury as he witnesses Everton’s new crop of fine youngsters coming through. Plus new signing Ademola Lookman getting a debut goal.
John Stones has always been good on the ball and people praise his footballing brain, but as Alan Shearer points out in the rant he should be prioritizing and be known for his defending first of all. His numerous mistakes not only against Everton but this season shows that he is not the finished article. But his £47.5m price suggests he was when he left Everton. They will be smiling at this detrimental form as they fought hard to keep him where he would have most likely improved at a faster rate.
At Man City however he is under an ever increasing heated microscope. Their fans are nw used to the world’s best players and so can spot a straggler from a mile off. Tweets are beginning to fly in questioning his potential and ability.
“John Stones is even a bigger flop than Fernando Torres.” @daretohazard
“please stop saying John stones is gonna be a top top player it’s embarrassing! He had no sense of danger no positional awareness” @1eyespudi
“The more I watch John Stones, the more I’m convinced that he is a terrible defender, a product of unjustified English hype.” @rajathkumar
For a young player like Stones this is going to be hard overcome but anyone who wants to become one of the biggest players in the world, and all that comes with, has to show it at some point. If he ever wants his legs insure for hundreds of millions like Ronaldo, rather than costing that, then he is going to have to put the work on the training ground. This is what Alan Shearer made clear on Sunday night. Phil Neville however seems blinded by good old English hyperbole.
It is true he is not the only failing defender at Man City but if you want what comes with playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world then you have to play like you belong there. While he is sitting nicely on his fortune now, you don’t want to be dragging the burden of an embarrassing career as you cash a cheque. And that is what John Stones is in danger of doing.