Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed that club captain Vincent Kompany’s groin injury is slightly more serious than first expected, with the centre-half set to be sidelined for a month. As the Etihad Stadium side look to string wins together to confirm their status as real Premier League title contenders this term, the Belgium international’s unavailability is a serious blow for Pellegrini’s side.
Injury cannot be avoided, however looking at the other title hopefuls suggests that City will suffer more without Kompany than the likes of United or Chelsea would without their leaders. In Nemanja Vidić’s absence last season the Old Trafford side could count on the experience of Rio Ferdinand, while without John Terry José Mourinho can still call on the authority of Branislav Ivanović to lead the side’s backline.
In slightly better news for City, Matija Nastasić has returned to training this week and is in line for consideration for the trip to take on Cardiff on Sunday. The Serbian had a solid debut season at the back for City last term and is Kompany’s natural partner in the heart of the defence when available.
However, Nastasić’s excellent performances last season were largely down to having the more-experienced Belgian directing him. The eastern European certainly has all the physical exploits and awareness to be a top defender, but still lacks the communication skills and presence to command the City defence in the captain’s absence.
With Micah Richards still injured also, it looks like it will either be Nastasić or Javi García, predominantly a defensive midfielder, who will partner Joleon Lescott in the centre of City’s rearguard until Kompany returns. Although all solid enough customers, the Etihad Stadium outfit’s defence looks nowhere near as secure without the Belgian.
City’s saving grace is that most of the games they play while Kompany looks to return to fitness will be against teams that they expect to beat. This Sunday’s trip to Cardiff will not be easy, as the Welsh side look to get their first points of their debut campaign in the top flight – however the Bluebirds’ attacking options should be manageable with what City have available.
The same goes for the following fixture, a home clash with Hull. However following this Kompany’s absence could start to be really felt. An away day at Stoke is never easy and to escape with points you need a domineering figure at centre half to deal with the inevitable aerial bombardment that the Potters throw at you. Lescott or Nastasić will be expected to provide this, but are no real substitute for a fit Kompany.
City fans will pray that their skipper and talisman will return for the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium on September 22. United’s 3-2 victory in this fixture last season was the beginning of the end of the hosts’ title challenge, and although much early in the campaign this time round, a win for City would be a massive morale boost and source of belief.
Pellegrini has admitted that he may well look to add a centre half to his contingent before the transfer window comes to a close, more than likely on the realisation that he does not have the same team without his skipper.
It is never easy to lose a leader, regardless of the club, but City do not look the same force without Kompany and have an over-dependence at the back on the Belgian superstar.