BELIEF is the key. Melvin De Leeuw knows the level of talent in situ among individuals he trains and plays with every week.
Grasping it collectively, he feels, can make the difference between mere survival for Ross County this season and an impressive final flourish in the Premiership table.
The Dutchman, the matchwinner at St Johnstone on Saturday, even concedes his own self-belief has not been what it should be at times since moving to Scottish football last summer.
Nobody watching events in Perth, though, could have been left in any doubt. De Leeuw, who could have stayed in the Netherlands and played in the Eredivisie this season, has ability in buckets.
The theme of him believing in himself and of the team also swelling in self-confidence was central to the 25-year-old’s thoughts this week.
On Saturday, County won outside the Highlands for the first time in the league this season.
Preparing for another big away test at Motherwell, De Leeuw reflected: “It was a great performance last weekend.
“But we know, as a group of players, we need to be steady every week. We train very hard towards that aim and we know what we want in every match.
“But if it doesn’t happen on a Saturday our heads can go down sometimes. Everybody believed we could win at St Johnstone and you could see it on the pitch. It gave everyone a big confidence boost — and confidence is so important in football.
“It is important we believe in each other and win games.”
De Leeuw had been building up a bit of a reputation as County’s supersub lately, adept at producing an impact appearance from the bench.
It was a mixed blessing for the attacking midfielder who, clearly, would prefer to start matches but has been labouring with a niggly knee problem.
De Leeuw stressed: “I had been coming on as a substitute in games and tried to give all I could. The last time I played against St Johnstone I provided an assist for Graham Carey and I also scored against St Mirren.
“It showed that I must believe in myself more. I try to work hard every day to show the manager what he can do with me and what I can do for him. If we believe in ourselves as a team it is going to be a good end to the season.
“For me, but mainly for the team, the goal was important.
“I came to Ross County at the beginning of the season to improve myself. I wanted to show that I could help the manager and the team, but I need to be 100 per cent fit so I can play 90 minutes.
“I had a little knock on my knee and it is still following me a bit, but I can train every day, which is important.”
The move to Scotland from SC Cambuur Leewarden came on the back of the Dutch club’s elevation to the national top flight.
Cambuur currently sit ninth in the 18-team Eredivisie, right on the shoulder of County’s impressive pre-season opponents PEC Zwolle.
De Leeuw, though, has no regrets about making the move to Dingwall.
He said: “Everything you do in life can be positive or negative. I think you must take the good things out of everything you do. It has been a difficult season for us as a club, but a great experience for me so far in my own life. Last year we finished in the top half of the league and just now we are in the bottom half.
“But we will be doing everything we can to move up the table before the league split.”
Central to that will be building on the St Johnstone win with games against top three sides Motherwell and Aberdeen now preceding a clash with champions-elect Celtic.
De Leeuw said: “We haven’t picked up a lot of points from away games, so we want to build on a great win down in Perth. The win at St Johnstone gave us a boost as we have two home games left before the league splits. We need to get more points away from home and it was a good start.”