Vincent Kompany makes his case for the Manchester City defence
Following his emotional testimonial at the Etihad Stadium on Werdnesday, their former captain insists Guardiola's side can cope with loss of injured Laporte
Vincent Kompany is gone but not forgotten, departed but not replaced. Manchester City paid tribute to their greatest captain at his testimonial on Wednesday but they could have been forgiven for feeling nostalgic about his time at the Etihad Stadium 11 days earlier.
When Aymeric Laporte injured his knee against Brighton, City were without the two centre-backs who anchored their defence in the Treble run-in last season.
Kompany recognised the irony of missing his own testimonial through injury but his hamstring problem should clear up soon. Laporte, however, is unlikely to play again in 2019. Pep Guardiola is down to Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones.
Kompany is adamant City were not negligent by failing to buy a successor to him, arguing his fragile frame was a reason they had such riches in the position last year.
“Three world-class centre backs is awesome by any standard,” he said. “In the past we had the luxury of four. I’ve not seen many teams have four top, top centre backs. It wasn’t normal.
"It only happened because of circumstance. ‘OK, Vinny could break down, so we’ll bring in another one.’ You saw throughout the season that no matter which pairing played it was always solid. Most clubs aren’t advised to do it and have three.
"Most clubs run with three world-class centre backs and a young one. City have got unlucky with an injury, that’s it.”
In particular, Laporte’s absence shines a light on Stones. The England international has excelled in the first half of the last two seasons, but lost his place to Kompany for the business end. An old colleague is an admirer who thinks Stones has been afforded too little respect, but conceded the younger man has to perform for an entire campaign.
“I’ve always said John is one of the most talented defenders,” Kompany added. “He’s got such a bright future. He’s already achieved a lot. He’s not a young defender anymore that hasn’t got any experience. He just has to get himself on the pitch, be himself and he’ll be fine.
"I’ve not seen signs of weakness I need to be worried about. He’s just a top-class defender. He’s a multiple Premier League-winning central defender that is growing and the one thing I wish for him is consistency – consistency of games and consistency of fitness – and then he will show the world how good he is.
If City can win a Champions League or something, all of a sudden he’ll mentioned in a completely different category.”
Kompany has now made the transition from City captain to fan – as well as being Anderlecht player-manager – and is heartened by the way his old club have developed the culture to cope despite absentees. It is a different kind of winning mentality.
“It’s existential,” he explained. “It’s a matter of survival. If this club doesn’t have this kind of high standards, there’s no way it’d be able to compete in all the competitions. Winning five out of the last six domestic trophies in the last two years is outrageous.
"As important as players like Kevin [de Bruyne], Kun [Sergio Aguero], Fernandinho, David Silva are, if you go back through the last 24 months a lot of the players missed out for spells, including me, and yet this team has never crumbled.
"That means it benefits from having this level of competition because they can put a number of players into a number of positions without weakening the team.”
As for Kompany himself, he left with no regrets. Even his many injuries brought further proof of character. “I’m a competitor, I’ve proven beyond anyone expected that I was able to come back,” he said. “I just felt that was it. For me it was the right time [to leave]. I had an incredible opportunity to go back to a club that needed completely rebuilding. That was a challenge that was completely out of the box but just as big as what I was offered at City.”
Updated: September 13, 2019 11:23 AM