Pep Guardiola has admitted that Manchester City cannot rely on Vincent Kompany’s fitness and have to buy at least one central defender in the summer to “cover our backs”.
Kompany once again performed impressively in the 5-0 rout Crystal Palace at the Etihad on Saturday. It was a sixth game in a row without a break, the City captain, who has been plagued by injuries over the past few seasons.
Despite this, Guardiola has the intention of strengthening the centre of the back, with the director, aware that the captain’s poor record of fitness – has suffered 37 injuries in his nine years with the club.
“I hope that I can be sure about him for next season. I think that when you’re in that situation [so] there is no doubt about that, but we have to cover our backs,” Guardiola said. “We can’t give our trust in him will be perfect, because of what you have experienced in the last few years. We have to have a back-ups if something happens, but, of course, with Vincent in that way is good.”
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Guardiola is encouraged by the Belgian’s run of matches. “It was a big step. When we spoke at the beginning of the season it was said that the first step – don’t put pressure. To be able to train regularly and play a game. After that game, another, and then another. And he did, and for 90 minutes. And that happened a long, long time ago.
“I’m pretty sure that the team of Manuel Pellegrini [Guardiola’s predecessor] missed him a lot the last two seasons – and of course I missed him. He is a true central defender. I have said many times – the central defenders, how many duels do you win with the front? You have to feel it. When the opponent crosses the ball with Kompany is: “Wow, that Vinny”.
“Perhaps you know that you are going to score a goal. With Vinny against Arsenal he scored a goal in the six-yard box. OK, that can happen. But you have the feeling that when they cross or intersect with a corner or a free kick that they are safe with him there. That feeling of confidence, especially in this league when there are a lot of long balls – it is a really important thing.
“In other leagues does not happen, it is important to have the people to win the duels in the header.
“And against Palace, we discover, perhaps he can play striker. He made not a bad goal.”
Guardiola was referring to Kompany in the second half to finish past Wayne Hennessey, the Palace of the porter, struck with absolute conviction.
The Belgian has two years of his contract and indicated he wants to play, who are outside, at least. “I felt like that is too early for me,” Kompany, 31 years old, said that the contemplation of retirement to be out of action for so long. “Maybe later, but now I want to be where I was against the Palace.”
David Silva scored after two minutes before second half goals from Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi rose up from the City to 69 points and, before Liverpool’s draw with Southampton, the third place. With regard to the importance of finishing third and going into the next edition of the Champions League in the group stage, Guardiola said: “it would be better, of course. It is important that it is in our hands. It is a great battle. In Spain, the two are always the same – Barcelona and Real Madrid. Atletico Madrid and another may come, but it is that these three or four.
“Here is six amazing, top teams, and all of them deserve it for their history and quality. You can imagine the season we have played Chelsea and Liverpool. To see their teams last season, good players and managers that they had, and they were out of Europe – when that happens, you can imagine that can happen to you as well. So that’s why it is so important to be humble. It is not easy to achieve that but it is in our hands. We have two more games at home.”
City host Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion before travelling to Watford on the final day. “Now we are going to enjoy a little the Palace of to win and think about Leicester,” Guardiola said. “I know a little of what they are. Against Palace we played a final and we will play another final in the next game.”