Stevan Jovetic poke to NBC Sports when Manchester City were on their pre-season tour of the USA. He hadn't been playing a great deal, had injuries to contend with, sound familiar? He made a revealing point, a point I emphasise but a point, to be honest, lost on the majority of fans.
“I think the most important thing is the head, in football. There are good players but the head is the most important. In that moment that everyone was talking about me saying he is not good, he was bought for $30 million, I was quiet and working. I knew that I was going to show myself in the best light.”
The head is the most important thing in football.
You look back to last season and our heads were all over the place, individuals choose their own mindset and the players, nobody else, the players chose to have the wrong mindset. They could have chosen to have the right one, they didn't.
This season has been a new beginning for many of them and not just last summers signings that people want to find so many excuses for. Jan Vertonghen has changed his tune, Danny Rose is responding to a challenge for his place, Chadli stepped up to the mark, Lamela has been a different player and Soldado is a few goals away from where he'd like to be, but he's switched on and trying.
Thursday night in the UEFA Europa League is a game for those players to stake a claim for a Premier League place, to catch the managers eye through their performance within the team system. Last Thursday in Cyprus only Harry Kane advanced his claims, Soldado bagged one to keep him ticking over but he needs to produce more now or it will be another long season.
This Thursday I'll be looking to see who responds to the challenge, the opposition is immaterial, the game has to be approached right, we are playing to win the game but players are playing to say pick me for the Premier League.