After eleven years, 360 games and twelve trophies, Vincent Kompany’s career at Manchester City has come to an end.
The Belgian colossus, who has been club captain throughout their trophy-laden period of the past decade, will move on now we’re at the end of the season and take the reins as player-manager of Anderlecht in his homeland.
The defender’s career at the club ends on a high, lifting the Premier League trophy and the FA Cup just a week apart as City’s domestic dominance saw them earn a historic treble.
Kompany has been a huge part of their success in recent weeks, and while his game time has been limited this term just look at how many matches he has played lately; Pep Guardiola clearly recognising his importance both as a defender and a leader of men in the pulsating race to the finish line.
The 33-year-old played 90 minutes against Tottenham in the Champions League semi-final second leg, and starred as City kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 victory over their Manchester rivals; that was a result that many felt secured them the Premier League title.
There were further trials and tribulations of course, and it was Kompany who stepped forward with that rarest of beasts – a 30-yard thunderbolt – to see City past a stubborn Leicester side in another crucial outing in their romp to the title.
It was fitting somehow that he barely touched the ball against Watford in the FA Cup final. That was the perfect performance from City in which Ederson could have probably sat in the front row of the stand and they would have still won.
Still, it was the perfect send-off for the Cityzens’ Captain Marvel, and there’s not a single Manchester City fan – nor barely ay football fan in general for that matter – that doesn’t wish Kompany well in the next step of his career.
The question now is how will City get on without their skipper? It sounds like a churlish question to ask on the back of a treble-winning campaign in which Kompany made just 15 combined starts in the Premier League and Champions League.
But his leadership, his influence ad his defensive positioning cannot be overstated, and in big games few are proven to come to the party quite like Kompany.
So does Pep Guardiola need to reach for the cheque book to bring in another defensive colossus?
A Test of Character
As it stands, City have three viable central defenders in Kompany’s absence: Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones.
The former has been an absolute revelation. No outfield player at the club has played more minutes than Laporte, and his assured performances – both at the heart of defence and as an emergency left back when called upon – mark him out as a possible City legend of the future, if they can keep him from the claws of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
You wonder if Guardiola really trusts Otamendi and Stones. The former started just 14 Premier League games all term, while the latter – with 20 starts – was often shuffled across the backline as required.
It’s a possibility – and it’s only that, so don’t throw anything at your screen – that Guardiola might try to reinvent Fernandinho as a centre back. Yes, the Brazilian is a brilliant defensive screen in midfield, but his physicality, reading of the game and expert positioning mark him out as a possible central defender in the making. Just a thought….
It’s relevant because Pep might not be able to spend the oil money of Sheikh Mansour in the transfer window if the club is banned from doing so for breaching the FFP rules. That means he may have to promote from within – Eric Garcia continues to draw rave reviews for his performances in the Under-23s – or he may have to find another solution.
If City’s potential transfer ban doesn’t see the light of day, perhaps the manager will dip his toe in the market: Jerome Boateng, his former protégé at Bayern Munich, has confirmed he will leave the German champions in the summer.
Vinny’s Magic Moments
If you have an excellent memory you may just recall Vincent Kompany’s Manchester City debut: that came in a 3-0 win over West Ham back in August 2008.
The Belgian, who had joined the club for £6.8 million, was installed as a defensive midfielder in front of a back four that featured Vedran Corluka, Tal Ben-Haim, Micah Richards and Michael Ball; a far cry from where City are at now!
Indeed, it was a while before the owners’ billions really took hold at City, with their first bit of silverware under the new regime coming in the FA Cup of 2011 – Kompany, now installed as captain, would lift the trophy.
He wouldn’t have to wait long to celebrate another major success, as the Belgian’s goal in a 1-0 win over Manchester United a year later would all but secure Manchester City’s first ever Premier League title; his place in the club’s folklore was guaranteed.
In 2013/14, in another title decider, Kompany once again showed that he is the man for the big occasion. He netted against West Ham on the final day of the season, and in doing so guided his side to another league win.
Injuries plagued Kompany for the next few seasons, but again he showed just why he has been so trusted in huge matches. Seemingly from nowhere, he returned to the starting line-up for the second half of 2015/16 and started in the EFL Cup final against Liverpool, where he earned the Man of the Match trophy.
And he repeated the feat in 2018, again missing stacks of games but recovering in time to lead his side out in the EFL Cup final against Arsenal. This time, the Belgian scored in a 3-0 romp and was again named Man of the Match at Wembley.
The silverware won this term has been the icing on the cake for Kompany, who has signed off in suitably majestic style. Few of his ilk will be seen in English football again.