Everton manager Roberto Martinez has warned the critics that placing John Stones under pressure can undermine the defender’s development.
Martinez believes Stones, at this moment, is the best centre-half in Europe, and he should be allowed the freedom to express himself.
Stones received heavy criticism and felt the wrath of a section of the Everton fans after he tried a “Cruyff turn” deep inside his penalty area in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Former England defender and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher has criticised his decision making and has urged him to clear the lines, instead of trying something different while defending.
Martinez, however, believes the young group of high-quality Everton players should be allowed to express themselves in order to maximise their potential.
“He’s an out-and-out defender and then for me he’s the best footballing centre-half in Europe, so he’s allowed to make his own decision and I like to back him up,” he said as quoted by The Times.
“We’ve got players, who at 21, 22, like Stones, Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu, who if you wanted to buy them with experience at 26, then you’re talking about probably £260m of expenditure.”
“So, we need to be aware we’ve got top, top talent, but they still need support and that trust and confidence in their decisions.”
Everton face Manchester City in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final on Wednesday night at Goodison Park.
It is indeed frustrating that a team with so much talent continue to underperform – Everton lying outside top 10 in the Premier League – and Martinez believes his side could be broken up if success is not obtained.
Stones is one of such players who could leave the club in future. Everton had rejected three mega bids from Chelsea last summer, and recent reports suggest the Blues are likely to come back in January with a massive £50m bid to test Everton’s resolve.