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Vincent learns injury is not good Kompany

Manchester City's Vincent Kompany engaging young Swansea fans before their Premier League game on Saturday. His latest spell on the sidelines came when he was hurt during the two sides' League Cup tie in midweek.
Manchester City's Vincent Kompany engaging young Swansea fans before their Premier League game on Saturday. His latest spell on the sidelines came when he was hurt during the two sides' League Cup tie in midweek.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • There is a case for sympathy towards Vincent Kompany when his legs are not what they were and he is at a stage of his professional football life when, to borrow an old line from Paul Gascoigne, the injuries no longer come in threes, they come in 33s.

Or more, to be precise: The defender's latest setback is his 34th in Manchester City's colours, and potentially the most damaging when the club have a new regime that gives the impression there is no place for sentimentality.

It is certainly startling to tot up the number of games Kompany has missed, the repetitive nature of his injuries and the seemingly endless churn of rehabilitation, comebacks, breakdowns and sapping disappointment, and not be weighed down by the suspicion that a club with City's ambitions will eventually decide there is no way back.

Kompany's 14 different calf injuries have accounted for 333 days of absence during his time in Manchester.

Among the other ailments, there have been six spells of absenteeism with hamstring issues, four with groin problems and three with both knee and thigh injuries.

  • 34

    Number of injury spells Vincent Kompany has suffered at Manchester City.

    333

    Days of absenteeism owing to his 14 different calf injuries.

Since August 2014, Kompany has missed exactly half of City's first-team assignments.

It is a cruel thing to say but Roberto Mancini had the wrong man when Micah Richards was hurt in one game and the Italian, showing all the tact for which he was renowned, tapped the glass in front of him. "Swarovski," he said - meaning the player was made of crystal.

Pep Guardiola is not so bruising in his public statements but it would be easy to understand if Kompany is filled with insecurity given the speed at which City's new manager has moved Joe Hart off the premises, ostracised Yaya Toure and made it clear he is unmoved by what has gone before.

Guardiola did not even inform Toure that he was not in the club's Champions League squad.

He has asked for an apology from the player's agent but would it really make a jot of difference if the opinionated, arrogant, selfish, gaudy, trash-talking Dimitri Seluk sent him flowers every day for the next month?

The truth is, Guardiola has zero intentions of playing Toure anyway. He bends for nobody. And if Kompany is not worried, he probably should be.

Guardiola could certainly be forgiven for wondering whether he can ever properly trust Kompany. It is not easy making a case on the Belgian's behalf when he even comes out unfavourably in a comparison with the player who went through his professional life being called "Sicknote".

Darren Anderton hated that nickname and with good reason bearing in mind he made 299 top-division appearances for Tottenham Hotspur - a club record in the Premier League era.

Kompany has the worse appearance record, whereas Anderton's reputation was warped by injuries in the build-up to Euro 96 and the 1998 World Cup.

In Kompany's case, it is not easy questioning Guardiola's methods on the back of 10 straight wins, but was it really sensible of City's manager to expect the player with the worst injury record in the Premier League to play a full match on his first appearance for five months?

Last weekend, Guardiola talked about the 30-year-old being ready for 15 to 20 minutes as a substitute.

Something clearly changed and the League Cup tie at Swansea City was in its final moments when Kompany went down in that now-familiar slump - head lowered, arms over knees, filled with anguish, this time because of another groin injury.

The 30-year-old could likely miss out just at the point of the Abu Dhabi era when the club might be embarking on their most exciting adventures.

At his peak, he had legitimate claims to be thought of as the outstanding centre-half in the Premier League. But those days already feel like a long time ago and the harsh reality of football life makes it difficult to be optimistic that he will be top of his trade again.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2016, with the headline 'Vincent learns injury is not good Kompany'. Print Edition | Subscribe