Pep: ‘Future’s bright with local Boy Blues’
THERE have been times this season when City have missed Vincent Kompany more than others. It wasn’t just as a reliable Rolls-Royce of a central defender that he made his impact felt at the Etihad, it was in his towering leadership, on and off the pitch.
Kompany became the beating heart of the modern Blues. He was a warrior as captain and leader on the pitch, but he didn’t need to be playing to be an inspiration.
His dressing room speeches were legendary, captured in behind-thescenes documentaries and his team-mates were in awe about his ability to find the right words whatever the occasion.
When Kompany turned down the chance to stay at City in the summer, instead plotting a new course as player/manager at Anderlecht, the club knew it would prove difficult to replace his ability on the pitch, but replacing his influence off it was almost impossible.
The Blues still have experienced players who know what it takes to win trophies at the club.
Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Fernandinho have all that on their CV and are over 30, while Kevin de Bruyne was considered a younger captaincy candidate, with Raheem Sterling maturing as well. But replacing Kompany was a different matter.
So Pep Guardiola didn’t try. Instead, he told his remaining players to be themselves, to stick to their own values and not to try and imitate a leader who was cut from a different cloth.
“Everyone is different. Not everyone could be like Vinny in many things, we knew it. Vinny knew perfectly the locker room and is an incredible people person,” the City boss said.
“But people are special in their own way. Some are real leaders who don’t say too much but are incredible on the pitch. Other ones like to communicate and express things.
“I said to the players ‘Vinny is
Vinny and I don’t want people to try and copy him.’ Everyone has to be who they are, that is the most important thing.
“The group in our locker room (dressing-room) are fantastic.” Kompany has had a difficult first season back with his first club, who sit ninth in Belgium’s top flight during their winter break.
But he has been back on these shores, honoured for his contribution to City and English football at a Football Writers’ Association tribute evening.
It has been a chance to reflect on a remarkable 11 years at City, when he really did see it all. The Blues didn’t sign a replacement for him in the summer and will face a similarly difficult decision in replacing club legends like Fernandinho, Silva and Aguero in the future, but Guardiola insists the club must not cling to the past and should try to move on, however they can. “It’s life, we cannot deny how
Vinny is unique, Sergio unique, David too. But this club has the duty to find the best replacements for all of them
important these names have been for this club. There is no doubt about that,” he said.
“Vinny is unique, Sergio unique, David too and these kind of players are incredible, but this club has the duty and obligation to find the best replacements for all of them and as quick as possible and anticipate it.
“But clubs move on so people arrive, people move, they stay at the club, the love for this club, the experience you live, but you have to move on.
“You cannot just say what happened at one time, Mike Summerbee one day he retires so it’s what has to happen.
“But knowing how important they were and they helped us be the club we are now.
“Always, honestly, I live nearly the last four years with these guys and I will always be grateful for what these guys have done for me and the club in our period and in the past.
“They were with Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini as well and were incredibly consistent for many, many years.
“I’m glad the Football Writers Association make this tribute to Vinny but we have to move on and I think the players want us to move on.
“All these players will leave and then new ones try to maintain the level.”
Vincent Kompany and Pep Guardiola
Vincent Kompany says farewell to the City fans at his testimonial Vincent Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy at the end of last season