Manchester City put in perhaps their worse performance of the season as they fell to a heavy 4-0 defeat against Tottenham on Sunday afternoon.
It was another shambolic defensive display from City and Pep Guardiola, and that’s something we have said far too much this season. The club have now conceded 26 goals in 21 league games, no other team in the top 7 of the league have conceded as many, in fact, 16th placed Middlesborough have conceded less.
So who is at fault? One player to be heavily criticised today is John Stones. The man who left Everton for Manchester City in the summer returned to the lineup and put in a pretty dreadful performance.
City, as usual, played out from the back and whilst they started the game looking relatively comfortable with that style of play, they were punished for their expansive style by a lethal Everton team that took pretty much every chance they had. There was far too much space between central defenders Nicolas Otamendi and Stones and it was made all too easy for the hosts.
Another worrying performance from Stones has left many questioning his large price tag and it puts Pep in a real dilemma. The club clearly need to improve defensively, but having spent around £90million on Otamendi and Stones, they cannot afford to just dispose of their current options.
There’s no obvious statistics to highlight Stones’ poor performance, but if you were watching the game it was clear for all to see that he seriously struggled. This will be a worry not just for Manchester City and Pep, but for England and the national team, who seemed to be preparing to build their future defence around young Stones.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to the player’s performance.
£50M DOWN THE DRAIN, AS JOHN STONES CRUYFF TURNS AGAIN
— ㅤً (@Evertxn) January 15, 2017
£50m Stones makes £15m Chambers look like a bargain and £2m Holding look like daylight robbery.
— PB (@OliPriceBates) January 15, 2017
John Stones ?
— Jay Riley (@TheKopHQ) January 15, 2017
John Stones is so basic. He can't defend. So many times this season where he's left Man City exposed.
— ReviewFootball (@ReviewFootball) January 15, 2017
I love Everton for helping Chelsea out today but I love Everton more because they stopped John Stones from joining us.
— Uber Chelsea FC ? (@UberCheIseaFC) January 15, 2017
To be honest, I’ve never been the biggest fan of John Stones. I think the £50million Manchester City paid for him is absolutely horrific. He’s really not worth anything close to that amount of money.
Let’s not pretend that Stones was the only bad performer in that Manchester City team today. Pep’s men were second best all over the pitch and the defending across the back 5 was simply shambolic.
It’s hard to simply suggest that Stones should not play out from the back etc. but that is the style of play of Guardiola and of Stones. It’s why the player cost so much money and it’s why the club were so insistent on bringing in Pep. City must now focus on trying to perfect their unique style of play, but Pep, for the first time in his career, may actually need to adapt his approach slightly, or the English game will simply swallow him up.