Pep Guardiola launches strong defence of John Stones' form

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John Stones has been the victim of intense scrutiny ever since he joined Manchester City for £47 million.

The hefty price tag has appeared to weigh down the 22-year-old from making the kind of progress City fans were probably expecting when he arrived from Everton last summer.

A regular in a leaky defence that has continued to struggle in the absence of Vincent Kompany, Stones has been criticised on more than one occasion for some of his most costly mistakes.

His defensive capabilities were certainly tested on Sunday when Liverpool came to town and picked up a 1-1 draw at the Etihad.

As was expected beforehand, the game was an entertaining end-to-end affair and neither side exactly covered themselves in glory defensively.

On the whole, though, Stones managed to come through the game relatively error free and was responsible for denying what looked like a goalbound strike from Joel Matip with a fantastic block.

However, it was his manager who caught the headlines after the game with a string of - to put it bluntly - really weird comments.

You can see footage from Pep Guardiola's post-match press conference below as the Man City boss grabbed everyone's attention with a fierce defence of his young centre-back.

"John Stones has more personality than all of us here together in this room," Guardiola said.

"More balls than everyone here. I like that. I love him. Under pressure, the people criticise him, so I am delighted to have John. With all his huge amount of mistakes. I love him. I love guys with this personality.

“Because it's not easy to play central defender with this manager. It's not easy. You have to defend 40 metres behind and make the build-up.

“That's why I admire a lot my central defenders: Nico [Otamendi], Kola [Aleksandr Kolarov], of course Vinny [Kompany] was injured a lot, and especially John."

Is Pep alright?

It's the hand gesture he makes when says 'more balls than everyone'. Yes Pep, thanks for making your point crystal clear.

Funnily enough, the fact he has 'balls' probably won't deter critics from slamming Stones the next time he slips up, though.

That wasn't the only bizarre thing Guardiola said after Sergio Aguero cancelled out James Milner's second-half penalty to earn a share of the spoils.

The City manager also claimed that the 1-1 draw against Liverpool was one of his proudest matches as a coach.

He added: "This is one of the happiest days of my career as a manager. After our defeat in the Champions League, for two days we were so, so sad and in the training sessions we didn’t talk too much.

"We arrived here against Liverpool, who haven’t had European football and had all week to prepare, and how we fight and how we run and how we showed spirit.

“Today is one of the happiest days of my life as a manager. I am so proud of my players. We were sad [in midweek] so that is why I am so happy. My players put everything on to the pitch. It is one of the days I am most proud."

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John Stones
Manchester City

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