John Stones believes Manchester City’s “special” winning mentality was key to setting up another shot at Carabao Cup glory in a superb start to 2021.
Pep Guardiola’s side kicked off the year with an impressive 3-1 Premier League win at Chelsea on Sunday, before securing a deserved 2-0 semi-final victory at rivals Manchester United on Wednesday evening.
Rejuvenated defender Stones’ first club goal since November 2017 was added to late on by Fernandinho, setting up a Wembley clash with Tottenham on April 25 and the chance to win a fourth successive Carabao Cup.
“It’s a nice start to the year,” Stones said with a smile. “I’m thrilled to score, especially in a derby. Something you can only dream of until it happens.
“Yeah, absolutely made up. I‘m sure my friends and family will be made up at home.
“It’s been a long, long time for me. I wasn’t sure if VAR (would intervene), it kind of threw me off my celebrations a bit but I’m absolutely thrilled.”
Asked why the Carabao Cup seems to bring the best out of City, Stones said: “I don’t know.
“I think everyone’s so hungry in the dressing room to win trophies and no matter what game it is, no matter who we’re up against, I think the winning mentality of the lads is something so special.
“Something that is very rare in football, maybe, for a team to be successful for so many years… or challenging for so many years, that might be the right phrase.
“And it’s something that we pride ourselves on and something that we’ve got to continue doing.”
Stones joined Guardiola in paying tribute to the late, great Colin Bell after a victory built on City’s latest clean sheet.
The 26-year-old centre-back has flourished since surprisingly being restored to the starting line-up and forming an impressive partnership with summer acquisition Ruben Dias.
“I think we’ve just got to keep building on it, keep trying, working hard,” Stones told CityTV. “We’ve always got things to improve on.
“It’s a pleasure to play with him. How well he’s done coming into the club straight away, playing so many games, playing so well. He got man of the match again today.
“All credit to him – I’ll take a bit of credit for him – but hopefully we can keep moving forward and keep getting clean sheets and doing our job for the team.”