Pep Guardiola insists he still believes in John Stones, despite axeing the England defender.
Guardiola has left Stones on the bench for Manchester City’s last two games following the debacle at Leicester.
Stones’ poor backpass led to Leicester’s fourth goal and shellshocked City conceded seven goals in two league matches with the £47.5million centre-half.
City have been more solid without him, leaking just one goal, but Guardiola says he still trusts the former Everton star.
“If I didn’t have confidence in him, he wouldn’t have played the games he’s played,” said the Blues coach.
“Of course, he must improve like Nicolas Otamendi must improve, like Aleksandar Kolarov must improve and like Vincent Kompany when he comes back. I know that people think if a player doesn’t play, it’s because the coach doesn’t trust him anymore. That is not the truth.
“Our job is never straightforward. It is unfair in the case of many, many players because they deserve to play, but I cannot find a solution for these kind of things.” Guardiola feels Stones is still learning at the age of 22 and adapting to the demands of playing virtually every game for City and England.
As well as Stones’ undoubted ability on the ball, Guardiola is impressed by his character and believes he will come back stronger.
“He’s young, he has to improve, but he’s open and he has a lot of personality,” said the Spaniard.
“When you play in the big teams, the character is there. All the big clubs buy huge players.
“All of them have quality, the difference is their personality, how they react in the bad moments.
“John is a big player, I don’t have doubts about that. But it’s the first time in his career he’s played every three days. It had never happened before with the Champions League and the League Cup, and every three days you have to be focussed. He has played a lot. He must train every day, be fit and when I decide to play him, he’s going to play again.”
Guardiola is so confident in Stones that he has ruled out a January move for Southampton’s Dutch centre-half Virgil van Dijk.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is constantly reviewing his squad, but does not expect to sign anyone next month.
“He’s not going to come here next month because it’s impossible,” he said. “Because he’s a Southampton player and we don’t want him now.”
- Pep Guardiola rules out January transfer activity0:51
- Gareth Bale shows off his ankle injury recovery0:29
- Ander Herrera shows off Eric Bailly’s sick dancin0:30
- John Terry turns prankster as he scares the livin0:16
- Cesc Fabregas gets his eyes gouged by baby daught0:27
- “The World is with you” Cristiano Ronaldo’s heart0:20
- WWE Superstars recite “The Night Before Christmas”2:24
- Arsenal Players Join Local Community ahead of Fes2:52
- Stars pay tribute as George Michael dies on Chris1:04
- Celebrities react to news of the death of singer 1:20
- A tribute: Pop superstar George Michael dies aged0:43
- George Michael gives tearful interview after Pneu1:33
- These were George Michael’s first words after bei0:37
- Watch: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!0:37
- Ben Baddeley has a message for Mirror readers!0:18
- Mourinho speaks ahead of Boxing Day clash with Su0:57
Guardiola: It will be business as usual for City on Christmas Day
Guardiola also shrugged off Chelsea’s extra two days off over the frantic Christmas and New Year period. They have 48 hours more than City to prepare for their third game against Tottenham on January 4.
Chelsea play three games in nine days compared to City’s hectic three matches in seven days, which begins at Hull today. “I don’t know how it works, you have to ask the federation and why they decide this kind of thing,” said Guardiola.
“But I will adapt. Chelsea and Liverpool have more recovery time in general because they don’t play in Europe. It doesn’t matter.”