Guardiola must rebuild Man City defence without skipper
When Pep Guardiola arrives for his first day as Manchester City boss, his to-do list is likely to be quite lengthy. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the words “rebuild” and “defence” were sat side by side near the top of it.
Normally any shift in back-line personnel would have been guaranteed to revolve around Vincent Kompany, the club captain and rock at the heart of the rearguard.
However, as the Belgian hobbled off the pitch after just 10 minutes of the Citizens’ Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid, there was a realisation that there is perhaps no better time to move on from the 30-year-old.
Such a proposition would have been unthinkable before this season, when Kompany was marshalling the Etihad Stadium outfit to Premier League titles and cup successes.
There is no question that City are a better side with their captain in it, but the simple fact is his presence can no longer be relied upon.
Of the 57 games the club have played this season, Kompany has featured in just 21 of them. He has suffered 33 injuries during his eight years in sky blue. Guardiola just cannot hang his hopes on that kind of fragility in a new job.
How City move on from the Belgian, and who with, is another question entirely. A veritable bounty has been spent trying to find the right defensive cover to deputise for the former Anderlecht youth. As yet nothing has worked.
Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi were paired together after the 70-cap international waved goodbye to the visiting fans at the Bernabeu. They never looked comfortable. That duo also started the recent 4-2 defeat to Southampton in the Premier League.
Waiting in the wings is Martin Demichelis, who has started just two games since Valentine’s Day and is now 35-years-old.
Such limited options leaves Guardiola little wriggle room other than to dip into the transfer market, unless he places his faith in 20-year-old academy product Jason Denayer, currently on loan at Galatasaray.
Alternatively, he could roll the dice on Kompany and cross his fingers that his new captain’s body holds up. On the evidence, that would be a bad bet.
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