REUTERS - Manchester City defender John Stones has praised manager Pep Guardiola for making him a “better player and person” during their first year together at the Etihad Stadium.
Stones struggled to deliver under weight of expectations when he joined City from Everton last season, then as the world’s second most expensive defender behind Chelsea’s David Luiz.
However, Guardiola’s constant support and work behind the scenes with the 23-year-old is finally paying dividends as Stones helped City claim six clean sheets over the last seven games in all competitions.
“He’s (Guardiola) always positive and wanting me to do better and that’s what I try to repay him on the pitch,” Stones told reporters.
“The games this season speak for themselves: clean sheets both in the Champions League and Premier League. I feel like I’m developing as a player and a person under him.
“That’s all down to the players around me, him and the staff that are there. All I want to do is keep this run going and see where it takes us.”
Premier League leaders City have scored 22 goals and conceded just twice in their opening seven league games as players appear to be responding to the demands of the Spanish coach’s attacking philosophy.
Stones believes his England team mates have what it takes to play a similar style but said that results take priority on the international stage.
“We’ve got the players to do it,” Stones said.
“It’s so different — but we’re always striving to become better and there’s a lot of likeness between how City play and international football. But to gel all those things is very difficult.”
England will qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia if they win at home to Slovenia on Thursday, while a draw will also do the trick if Slovakia fail to beat Scotland away in the other Group F qualifier.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge