Is this just the start of something special?
Pep Guardiola is no stranger to a unique tactical tweak.
The Man City manager has already tried to convert Fabian Delph to a left-back and previously dabbled with Bacary Sagna at centre-back.
Guardiola’s latest experiment involves John Stones, a man widely regarded as the best English centre-back around.
It seems however that the City boss has other ideas for his usual ball-playing defender.
During the Premier League champions’ clash with Oxford United in the Carabao Cup third round, Guardiola unleashed his latest creation on the world.
And he has just doubled-down on it again against Hoffenheim.
Stones brought on as a second half substitute with City needing a goal to take all three points.
He effortlessly switched between playing in a conventional back four and stepping up into the CDM role as and when it was needed.
True footballing intelligence.
The 24-year-old has struggled to nail down a regular starting birth at centre-back this season, with Guardiola’s rotation policy stretching to his defenders.
This seems as though it could be the only way that Stones is going to break into the City first team, for now
Stones playing CDM is your new oxygen…
Stones almost popped up with an assist, laying off a pass for Riyad Mahrez to unleash a powerful strike just moments before half-time against Oxford.
A deeper-lying midfield role is not completely alien to Stones, having filled in there occasionally for short-spells this season.
This is however his first start in the position and it could be a significant moment in City’s season.
Has Guardiola just given us the clearest indication that Fernandinho’s time is coming to an end?
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