Manchester: Manchester City defender John Stones said his decision-making has already improved under Pep Guardiola, who he believes is the best coach in football.
Guardiola signed the 22-year-old England international for 47.5 million pounds (around $63 million) from Everton this summer and has started the young defender in each of City’s three English Premier League games so far.
Stones came under question last season for attempting to play the ball out from defence on too many occasions, rather than prioritising the basics. Recently he has been named in the England XI for the 2018 Russia World Cup against Slovakia on Sunday.
“I was doing things before and then afterwards I would think, ‘Why have I done that? Why haven’t I just put it out in row Z?’ Already I can see a difference in my decision-making,” Stones was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.
“I just want to keep improving, keep getting games under my belt. That’s why I moved to City and, in my eyes, the best manager to work with in football. Hopefully he will bring me on leaps and bounds,” the former Everton star added.
“I’ve been taking in a lot of information these last few weeks, trying to figure out how to fit in. But you have to keep improving as a player and as a person because you have to move on in life.”
Stones will be expected to start in the first Manchester derby of the season on September 10, when Guardiola will renew his rivalry with Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho.
Former United and England defender Rio Ferdinand — who also received criticism for his decision-making in his early career — has been one of Stones’ most vocal supporters, even calling a football phone-in to defend the City man in December.
“I didn’t know about that,” said Stones when informed of Ferdinand’s intervention.
“I’ve met Rio a few times and he has always been passionate about football. To get that backing from him in that respect gives me great confidence,” Stones said.
“He was a top player and I’m striving to be a top player. I know I’ve got a lot of hard work to get through before I’m winning titles and becoming the player I want to be,” Stones said.