John Stones is confident Manchester City will continue to perform at an elite level after a period of change, with the Premier League champions signing Erling Haaland and Kalvin Phillips amid the departures of several big names.
Meanwhile, Stones City and England team-mate Phil Foden hailed Pep Guardiola’s managerial style as the most important factor in creating a harmonious atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium.
After securing a second consecutive Premier League title – their fourth in six seasons under Guardiola – with an exhilarating win over Aston Villa in May, City have used the transfer market to kick-start an evolution of their squad.
Haaland and Phillips represent City‘s two star signings this off-season, while Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fernandinho have all sought new pastures.
While Stones told the club’s website he was sorry to see some of his most famous players go, he is confident City’s new arrivals will keep Guardiola’s side competitive.
“I’m still confident we can pull it off,” Stones said. “Whoever came, he was always great from the start.
“We obviously spend so much time together and first get to know people on a personal level and then we go out on the training ground and see what they can bring and the quality they have.
“Whoever came in stepped up. It’s sad to see people go, whether it’s to retire or want a new challenge and it’s hard because we have so many great friends and great memories on the field, but we will not forget them.
“But that’s football, there are always new people arriving and it’s to the credit of the backroom staff and those involved in recruitment that the character of the players who have arrived do so well in the team.”
Haaland’s arrival should provide City with the central point they sometimes missed last season – Kevin De Bruyne scored the most with 15 league goals for a side that shared the attacking burden in 2021-22.
Meanwhile, Phillips emerges as Fernandinho’s ideal replacement in midfield having made more recoveries per 90 minutes (10.16) than any other outfield player to make a minimum of 15 Premier League appearances last season.
The intense competition for places at the Etihad has been suggested as the reason for Jesus and Sterling leaving for domestic rivals at Arsenal and Chelsea respectively.
But Guardiola handed out at least 900 minutes of Premier League football to 18 different players last season, a tally only bettered by four clubs, and Foden hailed the tactician for his approach to managing the team.
“He’s really good at bringing everyone together,” said the creative midfielder. “We have a great team and everyone has to be ready to play.
“You see throughout the year everyone has to be ready to step up. Everyone sticking together in times like these is so important and that’s why we win a lot of trophies.”