Ilkay Gundogan was the captain of Manchester City’s treble-winning side for a reason.
Softly spoken yet often deadly serious, when the German speaks his team-mates listen, and we can be assured that Barcelona’s squad would have heard every word he said to the TV cameras after the Clasico defeat at the weekend.
At 33 years of age, it’s likely that Gundogan hasn’t got too many years left at the very top level and the part of his speech where he noted that he “didn’t come here (Barcelona) to lose these type of games,” will have arguably struck a chord.
Having scored the first goal of his Barca career in the biggest match of the season, he was left not being able to celebrate it properly thanks to Jude Bellingham’s match-winning brace.
To then see team-mates acting in a carefree manner clearly irked him.
Careful with his words, he also turned the spotlight inwards so as not to absolve himself of any blame.
Each word carried more weight because of the calm way in which it was delivered. No ranting and raving, no histrionics or throwing his arms around for effect.
This was a dish best served ice cold.
The question is whether he was right to go public with his concerns or if he should’ve dealt with the team-mates in question face-to-face?
Of course, he might well have done that and the TV appearance was to underline the fact that, as a senior pro, he wasn’t at all happy with the application and mentality of young players who want to be part of a title-winning team.
With plenty of time left in the season, the underlying message should at least help to galvanise the team and push them forward during their most difficult moments.
Sometimes it needs a reality check from an unexpected source to refocus minds and get everyone thinking along the same lines.
We’ll only know if it’s hit the mark during the next real test for the squad.
Real Sociedad away on Saturday is certainly not going to be easy, whilst the fixtures against Porto and Atletico Madrid at the end of November/beginning of December can also be earmarked as potential banana skins.
Notwithstanding that, if the attitude isn’t right from the get go, any of the games in between could also prove problematic.
Gundogan’s broadside couldn’t have been better timed quite frankly, and it’s incumbent on the rest of the squad to heed the warning.