Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Breaking Down Why John Stones Has Struggled To Gain Any Sort Of Momentum At Manchester City

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Nikhil Vinodh
Nikhil has been an avid Chelsea fan for as long as the concept of time has existed and rumours say that he even bleeds blue. Having lived in the UK for 3 years, Nikhil is said to have an excellent understanding of the atmosphere surrounding the English game. His role model is the greatest manager of all time - Jose Mourinho.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side started the league campaign as firm favourites to the title yet again, even though the coveted European trophy was picked up by their arch-nemesis – Liverpool, at the end of last season. The traditional commencement of a league season is marked by the conduction of the annual FA Community Shield – a fixture in which Manchester City came out winners on penalties. Goals from Raheem Sterling and Joel Matip took the fixture to penalties, wherein the Citizens maintained a perfect record and got the win.

The interesting thing to note from that fixture was that English defender John Stones played the entirety of the tie, and didn’t necessarily look like he was going to be the Sky Blues’ fourth-choice centre-half for the season. Having started alongside Nicolas Otamendi in the heart of the City back-line, the former Everton man put up a decent showing at the New Wembley that evening. Still, the rest of the campaign has undoubtedly been one to forget.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 19: John Stones of Manchester City passes the ball during the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

How Did John Stones Make A Name For Himself?

The English defender spent the entirety of his academy days with lower league side Barnsley before he was scouted as a potential talent and signed up by Merseyside club Everton back in the winter window during the 2012/13 league campaign. It wasn’t until the next season though that Stones got his first Everton appearance, after which he went on to become a fairly regular face in the side. The centre-half spent over three years at Goodison Park, and his performances seemed to be consistently improving during that time.

What Has His Legacy At Manchester City Been?

Having played in 33 league outings for the Toffees in 2015/16 campaign, it wasn’t overly surprising when a massive club like Manchester City came looking for his signature. The fee that the Merseyside club quoted was steep, but given Manchester City’s intentions, it never looked as if the transfer fee was going to be a real concern. Stones played a whole 27 times in the league during his first season at his new club, but a chart of his performance levels over time would definitely follow a downward trend.

Despite having been at Manchester City for almost four full seasons now, the fact that Stones is yet to open his scoring account highlights the struggles that he’s had to go through. Moreover, this season, the Englishman featured extremely sparingly and only went on to make a total of 12 appearances in the league. When Aymeric Laporte got injured in the early weeks of the season, many expected Guardiola to bring Stones into the side. Still, his inconsistent nature prompted the gaffer to use the more secure head of Fernandinho as a makeshift defender.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 07: John Stones of Manchester City looks dejected following Manchester United’s second goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Where Has It All Gone Wrong For Stones At Manchester City?

The Manchester City man seems to have lost most of the confidence he displayed during his Everton days, and that could largely be down to a lack of playing time. Having to wait for an injury to get a run out in the team, only to then be unexpectedly replaced by a midfielder, would have a negative impact on any player in the world. Over the last few seasons, Stones has proven that despite his superior composure and ball-carrying skills, the need to maintain a level head is equally important.

The former Barnsley defender’s positioning has been off since he joined the Etihad Stadium, while there have been instances where manager Pep Guardiola has been left raging on the touch-line. Stones seems to panic in high-pressure situations, and that’s the last thing that needs to be seen from a defender at a top club. Whether or not the Englishman can regain his confidence and reinvigorate his career is a difficult question to answer. Still, the possibility of that happening at Manchester City is looking bleaker and bleaker by the season.

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