Plenty of promise, but today shows John Stones still has much to learn

Defensive errors are still a feature for the young Everton defender

BY Raf Diallo 15:55 Sunday 24 January 2016, 15:55 24 Jan 2016

Picture by: Barrington Coombs / PA Archive/PA Images

If the rumour mill is to be believed, Barcelona are looking at John Stones as a future acquisition.

On one hand, his confidence with the ball at his feet makes him a natural choice as the type of defender the Catalan club favours.

Indeed his promise is something we're all aware of, with John Giles recently telling Off The Ball that the ex-Barnsley defender has the potential "to be the best central defender since Bobby Moore" if he develops as expected.

That is a possibility and we'll only know for sure when we can look back in a decade's time.

But good judgement on knowing the best times to take risks is also a vital piece of a defender's armoury.

Stones is still young at the tender age of 21, which means he will continue to make errors until he reaches his peak years in the 28-32 age bracket for a centre-back.

But as much as Roberto Martinez's favours passing from the back, the Everton manager needs to remind Stones that he is also a defender first and an attacking outlet second.

Stones' insistence on taking risks even as far back as deep in his own box cost Everton today with his errant backpass to goalkeeper Tim Howard leading to Swansea's penalty in a 2-1 setback.

Already this season, he has made three defensive errors, with two leading two goals for the opposition.

That is the joint-second highest in the Premier League. Of course, age and experience (or more a lack of it) contribute to that and it is important not to hammer the player who is not the finished product or completely discourage him from having that confidence on the ball.

Composure on the ball is not often associated with English players as noted by the media across the water in the wake of major tournament failures, so allowing for a happy medium is important.

Everton fans are well aware of that risk-taking, with the youngster signalling for them to calm down during a recent game against Tottenham when they reacted to him attempting twists and turns (successfully on that occasion) in his own box to extricate himself from a tight spot.

But as with the situation today, he needs to learn that a spot of tiki taka in his own box is not always preferable to a hoof to the safety of upfield, whereas there are other instances where short passes at the back are less of a risk and also a progressive way to start an attack. 

Off The Ball


The very best bits of Off The Ball delivered every week