Has anybody been ‘John Stones bad’ and got better?

Date published: Thursday 23rd February 2017 2:54

Keep them coming to theeditor@football365.com


Leicester’s away goal…phew
Well that away goal is the slimmest of silver linings on the biggest, greyest cloud of a season for Leicester.

Woeful in the first half and much improved in the second. What was evident was every little break went Sevilla’s way, as though putting in only 95% (and I am being generous to some of the players there) means you are a lot more likely to come off second best. Who knew? Once Vardy scored it was like a surge of confidence went through the veins of the boys in blue and we were pressing, tackling and breaking like the days of yore. For 10 glorious minutes or so it was like them olden days of spring 2016 all over again. Now we just have to do that for the other 80 mins in our next game too.

With the crowd behind us in what, realistically, is our last ever Champions League tie, then we may just have a chance of getting that killer goal and displaying the tenacity last displayed v Chelsea on the last day of last season.

The thing is, we currently have more chance of going through, as it stands, than the combined might of Barca, Leverkusen, Napoli, Porto and Arsenal. I think we would have taken that a few weeks ago.

One final point – yes, we are utterly woeful compared to last season, but I do find the incredulous comments comparing the two seasons baffling, as in ‘how on earth did Huth and Morgan win the league last year when they play like this?!’ Well, dear reader, they did and they were utterly immense. As was the rest of the squad. I am happy to lend one of the several DVD copies of last season (stored in the safe alongside the passports, lock of the children’s hair and grandmas jewellery) as proof.
Rob (we’ll get battered by Liverpool now), Leicester


Stop battering Leicester
Some of the negative comments towards Leicester going down 2-0 down last night, simply amaze me. To say that it indicates that the Premier League is of poor quality because Leicester were able to win it last season is absurd. OK, so they are clearly not all world-beaters after but they had whatever the opposite of a perfect storm is last season and deserved to win the title on the back of their own triumphs rather than the failure of others.

All this season proves is how much motivation and psychology play a part in elite level sport and why sometimes truly ‘world-class’ players are seperated as much by a winning mentality and a determination to keep bettering themselves than by skill alone.

Rather than using Leicester’s success as a stick with which to beat the Premier League those idiots should just acknowledge that football sometimes isn’t about having the 11 best players (unless your Real), and that’s why many of us love it so much.
Alan Ewens


Stop trying to pass from the back…
I know my recent mails about possession football divided opinion, but surely most can agree on one thing – passing out from the back.

It’s something Pep is passionate about clearly and it has obviously been very successful during his tenure at Barcelona and Bayern, but surely he has to give some ground here, at least until he can bring in some defenders who have the skill for it.

There was a period in the game on Tuesday night where Monaco had us hemmed in our own box and we couldn’t get the ball away. The problem was not getting the ball from them. It’s just that when we did get the ball, we refused to clear it. Monaco just sat there on the edge of the box like a pack of wolves surrounding a herd of deer and waiting for one to make the wrong move.

It’s times like these that Pep’s tactics just seem ridiculous. The numbers don’t add up. We gift chances to the opposition in far greater numbers than we create for ourselves. Compare these moments to those where we cleared the ball. Our team got up the pitch. We got the ball back and we created chances aplenty.

Our defence was shocking in general, but a defence that seems to concede as many goals from unforced errors as we do through moments of brilliance should not be inviting the opposition into their own box for a game of piggy in the middle.

Still, it made for a great match and was one of those games that makes you fall in love with the Champions League in the first place.
Nic, Lancaster


Has anybody ever been as bad as Stones but got better?
I keep reading that John Stones is young and at 22 I suppose he is but he’s hardly at the fledgling stage of a footballers career. He’s made just north of 150 senior appearances – only 32 of which have come at Man City – so I am still prepared to give benefit of the doubt that he may one day come good based on this relatively small sample size.

The thing is though, whenever I’ve watched John Stones over the last two years he has looked ropey as f*ck and it seems a very very long time ago that Martinez was able to get a tune out of him. It’s not his fault he cost £50m pounds but I’m constantly being told he is ‘one for the future’ when every time he steps onto the field he looks more like a hindrance to his teammates than anything else. Based on what my eyes are telling me, the only remarkable feature to his game is the fact he likes to play the ball forward. Sometimes. When he’s not putting his defense under pressure passing it sideways or to the ‘keeper.

If Stones really is destined for greatness – and people don’t pay £50m for mediocrity – my question to the esteemed mailbox is this:

Can anyone name a highly rated central defender who was this error prone, this early on, but who actually turned out to be a world beater?

I genuinely can’t think of one.

Oh, and in the interest of balance, he’s still played more senior games than England’s next brave lion, Michael Keane.
Simon CFC


Turned off by the best game of the season
I’ve heard a lot about the City Monaco game and at 5-3 it definitely sounds like a humdinger.

I did try and watch myself but I only managed 10 minutes before turning off (in favour of the always lovely James Richardson on the European Football Show).

Besides from being a wannabe hipster, there are a few reasons why the match left me a bit cold.

The first is that City are getting increasingly ridiculous. I think sport should have a modicum of fair play and City are truly taking the Michael with several £50 million players in the starting line up. They also finally unearth a good young talent (Iheanacho) but does anyone seriously think he’ll get a full season at City? Even with the players they had at the beginning of the season they still went out and found Jesus.

Then there’s where the money comes from. I know talking about morality in football is like throwing stones in a greenhouse but I do wonder about the City fans cheering on their team which has been lavishly built by a (hmm let’s say ethically challenged) foreign government using the club as an advertising board. Does it not feel a little empty?

I think the saddest thing is the inevitablely of the fate of any of the young, hugely talented Monaco players who have a good game. Despite having humongous squads (Chelsea) or having spent the GDP of Belgium in the last few years (City) these players will still be snapped up in the hope that they’ll become the new Henry/Messi/Ronaldo and not the old Dzeko/Robinho/Jo.
Adam, LFC, London (or could just be sour grapes)


Jose would be crucified for asking Aguero to defend
I was more than a little confused when reading the early winner article. So Sergio Aguero – a world-class striker, I would add – is a winner not for scoring two goals but for making four tackles? You gave him further points for racing back to his own penalty area to win back possession and start a counter-attack.

And I scratched my head at this part: ‘Guardiola has not made unreasonable demands of his striker, merely requested that he fit into City’s new shape and philosophy. Change as the club changes around you, or risk getting left behind.’

You see, my confusion stems from knowing that if the manager’s name is a certain Jose Mourinho, then the player would have been a loser and the manager would be accused of trying to turn a talented player to a workhorse i.e. Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Willian, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford (I’m not including Luke Shaw because I agree that Mourinho is being unfair to him)

My point is that Guardiola’s reputation as the ‘savior of football’ means his attempting to increase Aguero’s tackling stats is accepted and extolled. On the other hand, Mourinho’s reputation as an “enemy of football”, (thanks UEFA) means that he is quickly criticized whenever he uses “track back” with reference to an exciting player – and the player gets an early loser column. What do the mailbox folks think?
Franklin, (Can somebody tell me why yesterday was Thursday and the Europa League was on?), CFC, Lagos


Arsenal have nothing to fear post-Wenger
A response really to the assertion that Arsenal fans should be careful what they wish for regarding wanting Arsene Wenger out because of the fallout following the post Ferguson era at Man Utd. I am a United fan, and the last three years have been turgid to watch from a footballing perspective, but that didn’t come from the fact that United fans wanted a change and that we thought the grass was greener without Ferguson. It came from the fact that the man we appointed as his successor was woefully out of his depth and his successor delivered a brand of football that made you want to slam your head against the wall (despite spending the GDP of a small country in two transfer windows)

Only now are United beginning to see progress being made under a manager who should have been appointed three years ago. We paid the price for not bringing the right man in, and Arsenal shouldn’t undergo a similar period providing they appoint the right one (i.e. Simeone in my eyes)

My point is that Arsenal should not fear the post Wenger era based on what happened at United post Sir Alex. They only have reason to fear if they appoint the wrong man to succeed Wenger in the way that United did.
Robert MUFC


Real fans are being squeezed out
It is simply class war played out on the terraces because the working class have been priced out of the game.

Look at live music. Venues closing all over the country because there is no arts funding applied. Why? because live rock/pop music is considered a vestige of the working class. Libraries, museums, community dance groups, community aerobics and the like all get arts funding so their tiny army of middle-class snobs can somehow enrich their boring lives. Yet live music suffers.

Bands like Oasis, Stone Roses, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin etc etc will never ever happen again because we have destroyed our working-class culture for the ‘safety’ of the middle-classes. This is why they took to opportunity to stick two fingers up to the establishment recently at the polls and this is why you will never get rid of prejudice.

By definition, in terms of what I own and earn, I am white middle class, but I have a working-class background, a working-class family and will always feel working class because I like getting sweaty in a live music venue, getting outrageously drunk/intoxicated, driving manual cars, smoking fags, swearing and eating pizzas.
Fat Man Scouse, EFC


Resenting fairweather fans
Not sure if it is just me but I was nodding in agreement when reading the section of the Bournemouth piece of which flagged up the hypocrisy of johnny-come-latelys singing “support your local team”.

Just this weekend I was explaining my dilemma to my Dad when leaving a full house at Molineux. Whilst I want the ground to be full and the atmosphere as good as it can be I resent the fans that only turn up for the big games and that they can claim “they were there” should something spectacular happen. This is because they weren’t there at QPR away or even Wigan at home last Tuesday. I don’t want them there for Chelsea because they weren’t when the team needed them more.

I know that there are mitigating reasons a lot of fans can’t make every game (cost, work and family commitments etc) but I suppose I wondered if others get as annoyed as I do listening to people singing “we love you Wanderers” when if you really loved them like I do you’d have seen them lose 4-0 to Barnsley in September when nearly half of them weren’t there…
Tom S, Wolves


Give Giggs a chance
Come on guys, why not give Mr Enthusiasm Ryan Giggs a break?

If putting out the cones for four years for Ferguson, Moyes and Van Gaal isnt enough to warrant a “top top” job then I dont know what does
Adam Halliday, Villa fan, (being passed over for the Man Utd job THREE times has not dented his confidence has it), Vietnam
Can we ignore The Sun?
I realize that the material from the Sun makes up about 39% of Mediawatch’s material, but after this last act of idiocy and lack of introspection, do we really need them?

Almost everyone who writes into the mailbox, decries the standards of the Sun. No one admits to reading it. What if F365 led the charge and just ignored the paper/website?

Sometimes I think they do this crap just so everyone will talk about them. If everyone stopped talking about them, maybe they can just be niche market for people who really don’t have self-respect or a sense of decency.
Dave Hill (LUFC)

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