Former Arsenal and England midfielder Paul Merson has urged Manchester City defender John Stones to leave the club, after Pep Guardiola opted to play two defensive midfielders in central defence over the former Everton man on Saturday afternoon.
Pep Guardiola was at the centre of attention prior to kick-off on Saturday afternoon, after opting to select Fernandinho and Rodrigo at central defence over either of his two fit central defenders named on the substitutes bench – John Stones and Eric Garcia.
The decision ultimately paid off, with Manchester City cruising to a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. However, Sky Sports pundit and former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson believes Stones has every right to feel disgruntled and urged the England international to seriously consider his future under Pep Guardiola.
Paul Merson said to Sky Sports, as relayed by the Manchester Evening News: “If you were John Stones you’d want to be leaving now, wouldn’t you? In my opinion, he’s fit to play. If he’s not fit why is he on the bench? It was a strange one for me.
“Rodri and Fernandinho did well at Crystal Palace but you wouldn’t want to play them together at the back for the next 28 games. It’s one of those Pep Guardiola decisions that was amazing, but it could have gone wrong. It was a big call to leave Stones on the bench.”
Merson then went on to suggest the decision was as ludicrous as playing a central defender in the place of an attacking midfielder. Merson continued:
“From my experience, I’d be asking serious questions if I were Stones. It’s like me being a No.10 and a manager putting Tony Adams in my place. I’d be thinking what’s happening here? A holding midfielder is not a centre-half. This lad is a £50m defender. It’s not like he was always there, and Pep just doesn’t fancy him as a player – a bit like Mesut Ozil and Unai Emery – it’s not like that at all.”
Paul Merson closed his rant on the situation surrounding John Stones by claiming this was damning proof that Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has simply lost faith in his £50 million defender.
“I would say that decision is the final proof that Pep just doesn’t trust Stones anymore. It really doesn’t look good for Stones.”
Manchester City fans on twitter have been quick to point on the flaws in Paul Merson’s argument, by suggesting the reason behind Stones starting on the bench at Crystal Palace was simply down to him returning from injury, and lacking match sharpness. That would seem logical to many at least…
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