Lionel Messi shows how John Stones might be biggest Man City triumph for Pep Guardiola

John Stones was a crucial exception as most of Manchester City’s Champions League win was the result of years of preparation.

It’s possible to view Manchester City’s Champions League victory on Saturday night as the culmination of a number of factors.

The most obvious interpretation was that it was all the ownership group had been hoping for since assuming control of the club in 2008—a European victory to seal their entrance into the conventional elite and raise their stature even higher globally in order to expand the club. It was no longer a secret that the hierarchy wanted this trophy above all others, and Sheikh Mansour’s attendance at only his second City game in 15 years and first since 2010 surely contributed to that.

It was also a redemptive night for Pep Guardiola, so often the brunt of criticism during City’s many painful exits in this competition over the last six years. The best coach in the world ensured that his career would be defined by the Champions League when he won two in his first three years of coaching, yet each subsequent exit had left his critics with a growing amount of ammunition; hopefully, they have now been neutralised.

If it was appropriate that Ilkay Gundogan, his first signing at the Etihad, won the championship in Istanbul, his parents’ country, the night belonged to another revelation: John Stones. We simply must discuss the Stones.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Stones may prove to be Guardiola’s greatest managerial achievement and the best present he has ever given the England national team. Despite this, Guardiola vehemently denies any influence he may have had on English football. The former Everton defender wasn’t horrible before, but there were real concerns when Guardiola’s City paid £47 million to recruit him from Everton in 2016 and he became the face of the tiki-taka gibberish that many people concluded in Guardiola’s first season of English football would never succeed.

 

 

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