“I think it’s very difficult for people to understand but for me he played a good game except for the mistake he made. When you play in a team like we do at City we are used to playing out from the back and we give each other options,” he said .
“To go to another team and try to do the same but you don’t get the options that you get in your normal team, it’s very difficult to play differently.
“I think everybody knows what John’s strengths are but obviously he can’t do it by himself, he needs the help there and I think that’s also what happened with the third goal.
“The ball that he gave to [Ross] Barkley, with us it would be fine because that ball would probably go to Fernandinho, [Ilkay] Gundogan, to the ‘keeper and we’d play out from the back.
“That’s something we are used to, we’ve trained like it now every day for three years so I think people have to look at the full concept, but obviously when you make a mistake people will judge you.”
Even if it doesn’t completely exonerate Stones, 58 seconds of intelligent articulation was all it took to challenge any hasty judgments that had been made on the back of England’s defeat – and show De Bruyne’s suitability to be Vincent Kompany’s successor at City.
As one plain-speaking Belgian leaves the Etihad, another looks tailor-made to be the next captain of the club.
Sergio Aguero, David Silva, and Fernandinho are more senior members of the leadership group and will all remain essential parts of the squad for at least one more year. However, they all have several years on De Bruyne; under contract until 2023, the 27-year-old is here to stay for some time yet.
His words off the pitch are as important as his contributions on it. De Bruyne is rarely quiet in games – “LET ME TALK!” will not be soon forgotten – and also regularly stops afterwards to speak about a range of topics in his own, to-the-point way unlike the team’s other senior professionals.
For City to have a public spokesperson to back them up and get their point across whenever incidents such as Stones’s mistakes pop up is essential, and it is hard to look past De Bruyne for the role.