Manchester City centre-back John Stones is determined to repay manager Pep Guardiola for the faith he showed in him during his difficult first season at the Etihad Stadium.
Stones, 23, struggled at times last season after joining City from Everton in a £47.5m move that at the time made him the world’s second most expensive defender behind David Luiz.
But Guardiola stuck by the England international and has been rewarded this season as Stones has contributed to six clean sheets in City’s last seven games, helping the club to top spot in the Premier League.
“Really good,” Stones said when asked how Guardiola had helped him last season. “Always positive and wanting me to do better and that’s what I try to repay him on the pitch.
“The games this season speak for themselves: clean sheets both in the Champions League and Premier League. I feel like I’m developing as a player and a person under him.
“That’s all down to the players around me, him and the staff that are there. All I want to do is keep this run going and see where it takes us.”
Stones produced a strong performance in City’s 1-0 win at defending champions Chelsea last Saturday and he agreed it was one of his most impressive displays in City’s colours.
“I think I’ve always been moving in the right direction. Everyone has their ups and downs,” he told journalists ahead of England’s penultimate World Cup qualifier at home to Slovenia on Thursday.
“We’ve started this season well as a team. It was an important match against Chelsea. They won the league last season.
“It was an important game to keep the run going and keep another clean sheet. Defensively, on a personal note, it was maybe one of the best games I’ve played in.”