Stones: Southgate has similar qualities to Guardiola

Date published: Tuesday 21st March 2017 9:33

John Stones believes England manager Gareth Southgate has similar qualities to Pep Guardiola and sees the pair as perfect mentors for club and country.

On the face of it the duo have little in common beyond their age – both men are 46 – and their overlapping playing careers.

While Manchester City boss Guardiola boasts a trophy-laden coaching CV from his time at European giants Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Southgate was relegated with Middlesbrough in his only club job before honing his craft with England Under-21s.

But Stones, having worked at length with both, sees plenty of shared skills.

“I don’t think they’re too different, both want to play football, both have got great football brains and knowledge about the game,” he said.

“I think the fundamentals of what they want to get across come over really well and that makes it easier for us as players.

“(Guardiola) only speaks in team meetings or if he wants to tell you something individually. I think that’s a great quality as a manager, giving you little bits here and not flooding you with too many things.

“And when I was with the U21s we had a great group, (Southgate) was not bombarding you with too much info. It was picking up little pointers during training or during games.”

The past year has seen the 22-year-old thrust into the spotlight like never before, as a high-profile addition to City’s quest for silverware and a regular starter at international level for the first time.

He has had bumps along the road, with his ball-playing proclivity sometimes inviting costly errors, but continues to command support from the dugout.

Guardiola offered a colourful testimony to Stones’ skills following the 1-1 draw with Liverpool, praising his “balls” and professing his love for the defender’s style.

The Spaniard also claimed his demands were hard on defenders but Stones is enthused by the opportunity to share a training pitch with him.

“I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, I see it as exciting and a massive learning curve for me,” he said.

“But it’s great to hear that off your manager. It shows the faith he’s got in me.

“From my point of view he’s the best manager in the world and that’s why I wanted to work with him.

“It’s going to be difficult at times, football is never easy when you’re learning and you make mistakes. I just want to keep listening to him and working hard.

“Personally, I’ve learned so much and I’m trying to learn every day through the good times and the bad. That’s when you step up and be counted.

“I’ve tried to correct that over the past few months and I think I’ve sorted that out. I’ve found a solid base to work from and that’s down to the manager, the team, myself and the backroom staff.

“Hopefully I’ll continue moving in the right direction, listening to what the gaffer has to say and keep improving for club and country.”

Southgate is also proving a rich source of advice having carved out a distinguished, if not glittering, career at the heart of the defence.

“Him being a centre-back, when I was in the Under-21s or in the past couple of games, has really helped me out, positionally or decision-making,” he said.

“He has a great click with all the players, which I think is great quality for a manager to have.”

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