Often accused of over playing, and making basic errors, we are guilty in this country of shooting anyone down who plays with a bit of panache and flair.
Risk is met with pessimism in the national squad. Instead, we as a nation prefer the safe and steady passage. The aggression, passion, and of course ability, of Bryan Robson was preferred to the genius and skill of Glenn Hoddle, arguably the greatest English midfielder of all time, but not given a fair shot for his national side due to his more ‘foreign’ playing style.
Paul Scholes is the finest English midfielder for 20 years, however was grossly misused in the English side, when the team should have been built around him. Adam Lallana is arguably England’s most important player, yet his attributes and skill is ignored by so many.
The call up of Harry Winks was met with widespread displeasure, with many believing he had not done enough to warrant a call up, despite England being in desperate need of a player with his attributes. In rather predictable fashion, he was given the man of the match award on his debut.
Stones, was also a solid performer. However, he is one mistake away from once again being labelled as an over playing defender who is prone to a mistake. If he was more a no nonsense defender on the other hand, no doubt any mistake would be put down to ‘one of those things’.
The improvements of John Stones
Stones has arguably been the best centre half in the country this season. He is turning into a leader for club and country, despite still only being 23 years of age. Age of course, is another factor that gets ignored if you are a certain type of player.
Make no mistake, Stones is not the finished article. At Everton, there were occasions when he simply would overplay, and mistakes were made down to poor errors of judgement, rather than trying to play out from the back.
However, central defenders tend to mature by the age of 26 and above, so for Stones to already be as consistent as he is, speaks volumes about his ability and potential.
He has become indispensable to Pep Guardiola’s City and is a major contributing factor to the side conceding only two league goals all season.
In fact, of the time Stones has been on the pitch for club and country this season, he himself has scored more goals (2), than his side has conceded (1).
He is crucial to the way Guardiola instructs his side to play out from the back, and has so far averaged an extremely impressive 96.6% pass accuracy in the Premier League this season.
However, he is also averaging 5.5 clearances per game, putting an end to the myth he overplays, as he is so often accused of.
In fairness, Stones’ potential has never been in doubt, and he has improved as a defender. Most could see he has the capabilities of becoming a world class centre half, and he is now fulfilling that potential.
He is the most comfortable on the ball defender that England have available for selection by far, and has seemingly cut out any defensive lapses that had previously blighted his early career.
Comparisons can, and have been made with Barcelona superstar Gerard Pique. At Manchester United, the Spanish international often looked weak, and error prone. However, since joining Barcelona, and with the guidance and tutelage of others such as Carles Puyol, and Guardiola himself, Pique has developed into a world class centre back.
Stones is arguably ahead of Pique was when he was the same age.
Stones is a world class defender who will only get better and should begin to be recognised for it as well.
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