Vincent Kompany hopes he has served as an example to Manchester City’s youngsters after ending his latest spell on the sidelines by completing 90 minutes in the 2-1 defeat to Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Club captain Kompany has suffered an injury ravaged couple of seasons, with calf and groin problems dogging him before he suffered knee ligament damage at Crystal Palace last November.
Wednesday’s match at Stamford Bridge was Kompany’s first Premier League outing since then, although he did play for the duration of a 3-0 FA Cup win at Selhurst Park in January.
Another fitness setback followed but the 30-year-old was an unused substitute for the eighth time in the top flight this season during a 2-2 draw at Arsenal on Sunday.
Familiar defensive frailties at Emirates Stadium persuaded Pep Guardiola to call upon a player who has kept his counsel despite being at the heart of City’s major trophy-winning exploits over the past six years.
“It wasn’t the easiest game to get back into but what I would say, in terms of advice to younger players, is I could have stood back and moaned and complained that I wasn’t playing but I never did,” he told BT Sport, after Eden Hazard’s first-half brace either side of Sergio Aguero’s equaliser proved decisive at Stamford Bridge.
“I worked very hard for that one opportunity and within the conditions that were available to me, I was helpful to the team. That’s what I wanted to do.”
City are now winless in four Premier League games and Kompany accepts the FA Cup semi-finalists must now focus upon Champions League qualification as Chelsea disappear into the distance.
“Regarding our position, it will be fight until the end for us,” he said, with Chelsea 14 points better off than fourth-placed City, who are four points ahead of Manchester United and Arsenal.
“Out of something, there is always a new target. Our target is Champions League and hopefully, getting to the final of the FA Cup.”
Kompany: “Obviously, we are not happy but I can’t say I’m disappointed with the performance. We are disappointed we couldn’t win the game.” pic.twitter.com/MdJbqntyNs
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 5, 2017
Speaking at his post-match news conference, Guardiola stated City’s sights might be set higher if their captain had been available all season.
Asked whether City would be higher up the table with a fully fit Kompany, Guardiola said: “Of course. Vincent, when he is fit, is a top central defender. We cannot forget that he was not fit for two and a half years.
“Of course in the last games he was, but always against the big, big teams you are considering if he will be ready or not ready.
“Today it was a good, good performance. It is not easy to defend 40 metres behind with Diego Costa, Hazard and these type of players and he did it really well.”
Hazard found himself in a compelling showdown with his Belgium colleague and was pleased to see Kompany back in action.
“It’s always a battle with him when we play one against one,” the man-of-the-match told BT Sport. “It’s always good to see him back on the pitch and back to his best.
“He’s a great man, a great professional and he deserves a lot.”