Pep: ‘Fu­ture’s bright with lo­cal Boy Blues’

Manchester Evening News - - FRONT PAGE - By TY­RONE MAR­SHALL

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

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