The Smiths once sang ‘I know it’s over, still, I cling, I don’t know where else I can go’, and with Vinny, it has felt like that for a while. City supporters and he don’t want to admit it, but surely his injury-ravaged physique has taken its final toll on his City career and its time to say goodbye, or is it?
In days gone by, before my kids started growing up and demanding my time before work became ever increasingly onerous in wanting ever-increasing commitment, I had moments of ‘me time’, when I could do what I pleased.
Like a big kid, I’d sometimes hammer the PS2 (this was that golden time before my eldest reached the age of 5 and could quickly dispose of me on Fifa) and bought a game in 2004 called LMA Manager. I quickly set about taking Manchester City from a mediocre mid-table Premier League team to the pinnacle of European glory. My focus was picking up decent, young European talents to gel together into a formidable footballing force – much like the EDS now.
I bought Ricardo Quaresma who was then aged 21 and just signed for Barcelona. I also got Gael Givet who was at Monaco and looking like a world beater (although it didn’t quite come off for him as he had an extended stint at Blackburn you may recall).
I also picked up from Anderlecht a young 18-year-old centre-back called Vincent Kompany. I’d like to say Kompany became my stalwart centre-back and club captain but time has robbed me of those facts. He did become an integral part of my time as I played through the next few weeks and months and Manchester City at the time, in the world of LMA Manager at least, became one of the most excellent club sides on the planet.
Like any video game though, at some point, the disc was dutifully put in its box and put away – it was the end of my dominance in Europe.
I immediately recalled these facts and related them to whoever would listen, when the Blues signed Vincent in August 2008. I felt I already knew him even though my actual knowledge of European football was, at best, limited.
I told everyone he was reliable and dependable. A real winner and ‘would do well here’. And, in very un-City like fashion, that’s precisely what happened. Vincent has been captaining the team throughout this period of success; he has been constant regarding support but, sadly, the same cannot be said of maintaining a presence on the pitch.
Does it feel now like we, as a team, are ready to move on? Have we now got the confidence in the defensive pairing we have to no longer ‘wish Vinny was fit’?
From being an almost ever-present in his first season of 2008/2009 with 34 league appearances, in the last five seasons (including this one which is apparently still relatively young), his presence has been on a continual decline (28, 25, 14, 11 & 3 league performances in the corresponding seasons).
It is a situation, in a playing sense, that couldn’t go unchecked for much longer and hasn’t. There was what appears to be an aborted attempt at long-term planning with Eliaquim Mangala. But now, his long-term replacement, in the shape of John Stones, is flourishing now making another comeback for the Belgian giant all the more problematic.
And, though I hate to say it, to accommodate a comeback, when it’s happening so often, can only hurt a settled (or at least settling) defence.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Vinny has no place with us anymore, quite the contrary. If ever there was a player of recent times who deserves something from the club then it’s our club captain.
He stands as a bridge between what we once were and what we are now and, for some, if not all of us, that is difficult to let go. I like to imagine, in 30 years time, when legends like Colin Bell, Tony Book and Tommy Booth are no longer around, characters like Vincent will still be here, telling our team then what we’re all about and being held up as an example of what a real City legend is.
However, given his astute academic ability and his interest in politics, once the time comes for Vinny to call it a day, his aspirations may well be beyond those of most of us.