KOM­PANY’S LAT­EST SET­BACK

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS - BY JACK PITT-BROOKE

VIN­CENT KOM­PANY is one of the many for whom the end of 2016 can­not come soon enough. The Manch­ester City cap­tain had al­ready spent 37 weeks of the year out with a va­ri­ety of in­juries and now there is a fresh one to bat­tle. His man­ager, Pep Guardi­ola, re­vealed that Kom­pany picked up a knee lig­a­ment in­jury dur­ing Satur­day’s 2-1 win at Crys­tal Palace and will be out for sev­eral more weeks. Kom­pany is be­ing treated by Ra­mon Cu­gat, the Barcelona-based doc­tor whose team treated him for an­other knee in­jury af­ter he broke down af­ter 10 min­utes of the Cham­pi­ons League semi­fi­nal with Real Madrid. This is Kom­pany’s 35th sep­a­rate in­jury since he came to Manch­ester City in 2008 and, given that Guardi­ola had se­ri­ous doubts about his long-term prospects when he ar­rived at the Eti­had Sta­dium, he is likely to step up the search for a re­place­ment in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow. Thus far Kom­pany’s in­volve­ment in City’s Premier League cam­paign has been 116 min­utes of foot­ball stretched over three matches. For a man who can be counted one of Manch­ester City’s great play­ers, his ca­reer ap­pears to be clos­ing amid pain and frus­tra­tion. “He is sad about it, of course,” said Guardi­ola of Kom­pany. “I am sad. He is a good chap and it is a long time that he doesn’t play. He is in the best hands and Dr Cu­gat will make the treat­ment as soon as pos­si­ble. I am told it is not a se­ri­ous knee lig­a­ment in­jury. A se­ri­ous knee lig­a­ment in­jury would be six months. This is weeks.” SPURS STILL IN­EX­PE­RI­ENCED When Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino looked back on Spurs’ col­lapse at the end of last sea­son, he said that prob­lem was in their heads, and that they needed to im­prove their men­tal­ity.

This Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign has felt like a vin­di­ca­tion, of sorts. Spurs have looked tac­ti­cally naive and care­less in their four games against Bayer Lev­erkusen and Monaco, good sides but not in the European elite.

This cam­paign has been a hard re­minder that this Spurs team is still a work in progress, with none of the ex­po­sure its do­mes­tic ri­vals have to the top end of European com­pe­ti­tion. FULLBACKS DOM­I­NATE Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino has spent the last few games try­ing to find a new tac­ti­cal bal­ance. He played a new nar­row 4-3-2-1, hop­ing to get as much sup­port to Harry Kane as pos­si­ble. The prob­lem was that it was so nar­row, with Son He­ung-Min and Dele Alli tucked in, that the flanks were left free to Monaco.

And French fullbacks Djib­ril Sidibe and Ben­jamin Mendy de­stroyed Spurs down the sides.

Kieran Trip­pier is not first choice, Danny Rose is, but nei­ther Spurs full­back had the pro­tec­tion to stop his Monaco coun­ter­part. KANE NEEDS MORE HELP In Spurs’ last three games, Arse­nal, West Ham and Monaco, they have scored five goals, which is good. But four of those came from Harry Kane, and three of them were penal­ties.

Dele Alli is not play­ing well, nei­ther is Chris­tian Erik­sen, while Erik Lamela is in­jured. Vin­cent Janssen is still set­tling in and, ul­ti­mately, Spurs sim­ply do not have the at­tack­ing play­ers to help Kane out. ALDER­WEIRELD A BIG AB­SENCE Spurs do not have a big squad and the prob­lem is that they have never had a full side fit all sea­son. Be­fore Harry Kane re­turned, they lost Toby Alder­weireld, their leader at the other end of the pitch.

This game was an ex­am­ple of how much they miss him, as Eric Dier and Kevin Wim­mer were pulled all over the place. Spurs painfully missed Alder­weireld and Jan Ver­tonghen, and ev­ery time Monaco at­tacked they could

AFPPIX

Monaco’s Ben­jamin Mendy (right) runs for the ball dur­ing their UEFA Cham­pi­ons League group E against Tot­ten­ham yes­ter­day. –

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