Pep Guardiola says John Stones deserves all the praise he gets after scoring twice in his latest outstanding display for Manchester City.
The 26-year-old defender grabbed City’s first and third goals – his first strikes for the club in the Premier League – as they thrashed Crystal Palace 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Stones appeared to be facing an uncertain future last summer after falling out of favour under manager Guardiola.,
It seemed he might have to settle for being fourth-choice centre-back – at best – behind Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake.
Yet given an opportunity to play alongside new signing Dias early in the campaign, he grasped it and his position now looks rock-solid. In the 10 games he and Dias have started this season, City have won nine and conceded just one goal – and that a last-minute consolation for Chelsea in a fine 3-1 City win.
Guardiola said: “If there is one guy who deserves the best it is John. He’s struggled a lot but he’s a fantastic human being. His parents must be so proud.
“He’s had personal problems in the past, injuries. At the moment he’s set up good and he’s starting to play.
“Confidence is everything. He won his confidence for himself. As managers, we can’t give confidence.
“He started to play alongside Ruben and they’ve played really well.”
City’s victory was their fifth in succession in the Premier League and lifted them above champions Liverpool into second in the table. They are two points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand and, after a slow start to the season, seem to be making their move.