EPL

Stones backs 'fearless' Grealish to quickly settle at Man City

By Sports Desk August 10, 2021

John Stones has backed "fearless" Jack Grealish to make an immediate impact at Manchester City following his arrival from Aston Villa for a British-record £100million fee.

England international Grealish was confirmed as a City player last week and made his debut as a second-half substitute in Sunday's 1-0 Community Shield defeat to Leicester City.

The 25-year-old played 25 minutes in that annual curtain-raising fixture, managing 25 touches of the ball and completing 15 of his 16 passes during his time on the pitch.

He is in contention to start City's opening Premier League fixture against Tottenham next Sunday and Stones is excited by what his international team-mate will bring to the side.

"Jack's an incredible footballer. A raw talent. I think you can see he is a bit fearless in how he plays and very direct," Stones told City's official website.

"We only saw a little bit of him in the Euros, but when he came on everyone was excited to see him and he came on and gave some vital assists at key moments.

"He is a big game player. An incredible person as well. He is coming into one of the best dressing rooms in the world non-football wise, with the characters we have here and he will fit in straight away.

"I am sure he will be looking forward to more success here and hopefully winning some silverware."

Stones was speaking after signing a new long-term contract at the Etihad Stadium that keeps him tied down to City until June 2026.

Former Everton defender Stones has spent the past five seasons with City and played an integral part in last term's Premier League and EFL Cup double.

City kept 19 clean sheets across the centre-back's 35 appearances in 2020-21 and conceded only 16 times with him on the field.

The 27-year-old's 24 blocks in 2020-21 were his most in a single season at City, while 32 tackles and 146 recoveries were above his average numbers over the past five seasons.

It marked quite the turnaround for Stones, who struggled for form and fitness during 2019-20 and came close to leaving the club.

And the Barnsley academy product has thanked Pep Guardiola and City's coaching staff for the faith shown in him.

"I think everyone, coaching staff, all the other staff that are here, from day one made me feel so welcome," Stones said.

"Everyone plays a major part in our success as players. I appreciate what everyone does for me here as a person.

"It is hard to say, but they have had a big impact on me and it was an easy decision for me to put pen to paper again. I feel like this is home and I absolutely love the place."

Related items

  • Now for the big ones as Ancelotti vows Supercopa is just the start for 'ugly' Real Madrid Now for the big ones as Ancelotti vows Supercopa is just the start for 'ugly' Real Madrid

    Carlo Ancelotti scooped the first trophy of his second reign at Real Madrid and vowed his "ugly" team would go flat out to bring more silverware to the Santiago Bernabeu.

    It had been 18 months since Madrid last won a title, the 2019-20 LaLiga crown in the pandemic-hit season that went into extra time, but a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana final scratched that itch.

    Last term under Zinedine Zidane proved a struggle at times, but there is more zip and panache to the Madrid that Ancelotti has fielded this season. He won four trophies in his first two-year spell at Madrid from 2013 to 2015, and obviously fancies several more this time around.

    Madrid are front-runners in LaLiga, albeit with Sevilla in pursuit, they remain in the Copa del Rey and also have Champions League ambitions ahead of a tough last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain.

    This trip to Saudi Arabia for the Supercopa should provide a timely lift for Madrid, heading into the business end of the season. Seeing off Barcelona in a testing semi-final was a boon, and Madrid controlled the final against Athletic until flagging in the closing stages.

    "I am very pleased, happy, and we continue," Ancelotti said. "We are going to compete, but being here is lucky. It is an honour to train this team and this club. By the way, we are going to compete for the other competitions.

    "We have the strength to fight for all competitions. This is a team I like to watch play. We don't have just one way of playing, but rather different ones and that is the strength of this team."

    Ancelotti pointed out his personal trophy drought had also ended, after going without such success during spells with Napoli and Everton. It had been four and a half years since he last won any cup, which came at the tail end of his Bayern Munich tenure.

    "I'm not tired of winning, because the last one was a [German] Super Cup with Bayern and I hadn't won for a long time," he said.

    "Winning is the end of the job. Winning means you've done a good job. Sometimes it isn't. I've done a good job at Napoli or Everton and I haven't won anything."

    Ancelotti spared a playful jibe for his team, who appear to have taken kindly to their Italian coach.

    "When you win a lot, you think you're the most handsome, that you play the best football in the world and the sacrifice goes down a bit," Ancelotti said.

    "Fortunately, the sacrifice of our players is high. I think my players are not handsome … they are very ugly."

  • Sacked Benitez did not realise 'magnitude of task' at Everton Sacked Benitez did not realise 'magnitude of task' at Everton

    Rafael Benitez said he did not realise the "magnitude of the task" at Everton after he was dismissed on Sunday following a run of just two wins in 14 games across all competitions.

    The Toffees announced Benitez's departure a day on from losing 2-1 to bottom side Norwich City.

    Former Liverpool boss Benitez was a divisive appointment at Everton when he was drafted in to replace Carlo Ancelotti in July.

    They started the season well, winning three of their first four league matches, yet injuries to key players and a dreadful loss of form has seen them slide down the table.

    A win over Hull City in the FA Cup third round offered Benitez a brief reprieve, but defeat to lowly Norwich on Saturday marked a new nadir, and Everton decided to act.

    Benitez cited injuries as a significant factor in their dismal form, and believed they would improve in the second half of the campaign. 

    "We knew it wouldn't be easy, and that it was a big challenge, both emotionally and in terms of sport," he said in a statement posted on his official website.

    "My love for this city, for Merseyside and its people, made me accept this challenge, but it is only when you are inside that you realise the magnitude of the task.

    "From the very first day, my staff and myself worked as we always do, with commitment and full dedication, we didn't only have to get results, but we also had to win over people's hearts.

    "However, the financial situation and then the injuries that followed made things even harder. I am convinced that we would have been better once the injured players were back and with the arrival of the new signings.

    "The road to success isn't easy and sadly, nowadays in football there is a search for immediate results and there is always less and less patience; unfortunately circumstances have determined the results and it won't be possible to continue this project."

    Benitez left the club after a mere 200 days, giving him the third-shortest reign of any Toffees manager in the Premier League with 40 or more days in charge. Only Sam Allardyce (167) and Dave Watson (60) were at the helm for fewer days.

    It was his fourth time in charge of a Premier League club and he departed with comfortably the worst win percentage ratio during his time in England.

    He won just seven of his 22 games in charge, leaving him with a win ratio of 31.8 per cent – significantly behind his records at Liverpool (55.4 per cent), Chelsea (58.3) and Newcastle United (42.5).

  • 'He's worthy of the Ballon d'Or again' – Is Luka Modric coming for Messi's prize? 'He's worthy of the Ballon d'Or again' – Is Luka Modric coming for Messi's prize?

    Real Madrid president Florentino Perez predicted Luka Modric could win the Ballon d'Or for a second time after his masterclass in the Supercopa de Espana final.

    Croatian playmaker Modric scooped France Football's prestigious prize for world player of the year after his dazzling performances at the 2018 World Cup.

    He will turn 37 before the Qatar World Cup in November, but Modric's goal and overall display in the 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday showed he remains a force.

    Thibaut Courtois saved a late penalty from Raul Garcia as Madrid made sure of a first trophy since Carlo Ancelotti returned to the club for a second spell as coach.

    Asked about Courtois and Modric, Perez said after the game: "Without wanting to brag, they are the two best in their position. The best goalkeeper and Modric in enviable form, worthy of winning the Ballon d'Or again."

    Modric's passing accuracy this season is an outstanding 90.41 per cent, and even in the opposition half it is 89.03 per cent, which are impressive numbers given he plays a lot of high-tariff balls.

    He has created eight big chances for others this season already and has five assists, while the shot he sent arcing past Unai Simon in the 38th minute at the King Fahd Stadium gave Modric a first goal of the season. He took away the most valuable player award from Sunday's game.

    Perez is still probably getting excited too soon, given the Ballon d'Or is an end-of-year prize, but Modric was excellent, and midfield colleague Toni Kroos had a 95 per cent accuracy rate from his game-high 100 passes, helping ensure Madrid had the game tied up before withstanding a late flurry of attacks from Athletic.

    Former Barcelona captain Lionel Messi took the Ballon d'Or for a record seventh time last year, with even Robert Lewandowski's Bayern Munich goalscoring feats not enough to knock the Argentine great off his accustomed top spot in the vote.

     

    Madrid should win more silverware this season. They lead LaLiga, have a Copa del Rey last-16 clash with Elche on Thursday, and remain in the Champions League, albeit with a tough tie against Paris Saint-Germain coming up next in that competition.

    Perez enthused about the prospects for this Ancelotti stint, saying of Madrid's early success: "It means a lot."

    Quoted in Marca, Perez said: "We always want to win everything, they taught us that since we were little. This year it was 60 years since I became a member, and that's how we were educated. I work along the lines that Santiago Bernabeu set for us, and I am happy because we have won the first title."

    Courtois did not particularly guess right for Garcia's penalty, as much as guess late, meaning his outstretched leg could reach the ball down the middle as the rest of his body lurched to the right.

    "I was hesitating between going to the right or staying in the middle," the Belgian goalkeeper told #Vamos, "and that's why I kept my foot there and I was able to stop it. If not, we would have had a heart-stopping final few minutes."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.