He was busy dissecting a fairly wretched final year at Everton when John Stones suggested what is already changing for him under Pep Guardiola.
‘I was doing things before and then afterwards I would think, “Why have I done that? Why haven’t I just put it in row Z?” Already I can see a difference in my decision-making,’ he said.
‘We can all regroup from putting it in row Z sometimes. From last season to the start of this season I’m realising when to do it. That’s where I believe I have come on quite a lot as a player.’
Stones’s start to life at Manchester City has been one of poise, ready to be put to its first real test against Manchester United and the might of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
It is the same poise evidenced at Goodison Park but the sort of which to have escaped him in the final months under Roberto Martinez.
The £47.5million signing clearly has misgivings at his treatment under Martinez and in hindsight appears to have been a fall guy of the ‘be the ball’ mentality forced upon those at Finch Farm.
As such, Everton supporters might roll their eyes when they see Stones talking about old-fashioned clattering of possession out for throw-ins.
He did not do it often in their blue, a pin-up for Martinez’s pass-at-all-costs, and even told the Gwladys Street to ‘calm down’ as they barked at him for performing a Cruyff turn inside his own box.
They would be right, certainly having seen Stones complete the basics with little fuss at City thus far. There will be moments of difficulty along the way – he is only 22 and learning Guardiola’s unique shape – but the feeling at the Etihad Stadium is that early signs are very positive indeed.
It is one reason why Saturday lunchtime will make such captivating viewing, Stones facing his biggest challenge in sky blue to date. Ibrahimovic will be his man. Come through that and he can come through pretty much anything.
Four goals in four competitive games for the 34-year-old during a blistering first month at United. Oddly, for a man with 13 league titles in four different countries, he has a point to prove.
Some felt Ibrahimovic had shied away from the Premier League for fear of failure, so to take the leap so late in his career indicates sizeable, however unsurprising, self-confidence that he can lift yet another crown.
He is the epitome of a changed United with Jose Mourinho at the helm. Back to the arrogance of old, one trait to have definitely run away from them since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
He is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, chest out and head up; opponents come to stop the team he spearheads, not the other way around.
He is also a striker who is big, powerful, physically imposing and lightning over five yards. A handful who will almost undoubtedly score upwards of 15 goals this season. One to be feared.
Stones knows all this, of course, and knows he is capable of thwarting the Swede, as Hull City managed by hook or by crook prior to the international break.
City’s premier central defender could play alongside Aleksandar Kolarov given Nicolas Otamendi is not back in training until Thursday, with Argentina travelling to Venezuela on Tuesday night. It is the earliest he could possibly return from South America along with right back Pablo Zabaleta.

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