Vincent Kompany is an outstanding soon-to-be 29 yo center back with a history of excellent performance. We are often told by those media types in positions of power and influence that a 29 yo center back is bang in his prime and has many peak performance years left in the tank. I'm not so sure that the media types, and that of the common narrative regarding center backs aging like fine wines, is particularly accurate.
Wear and tear on players' bodies can possibly have a larger than appreciated effect on career longevity and for a player like Vincent Kompany there's been an awful lot of wear and tear and hard battles over the years. How many peak years does Kompany have left? How long before the recent, and regular, muscle injuries begin to erode his pace and power which are such key attributes to an aggressive center back like Kompany?
Man, is that an intro full of doom and injury talk?
We could pretend that injuries don't happen or that injuries don't impact the performance levels of a player, or we could talk about them reasonably and factor them into our expectations about a player.
Why all this talk about Kompany and injuries?
25 games missed during the last two league campaigns.
So, players miss time due to injury?
Yes, injuries happen. But for Kompany that is a lot of recent injuries and the nature of the injuries is important. These aren't stubbed toes or a broken hand, the injuries were hamstring, calf, groin, hamstring, calf.
The significance being?
I'm no doctor but I would guess that an accumulation of muscle injuries eventually impacts pace and power. Ask Fernando Torres. Or Michael Owen. Kompany has suffered at least 5 independent muscle injuries (transfermarkt may be conservative in the reporting of injuries) in the last two seasons and, unless the ortho surgeon I know is mistaken (unlikely) some of these injuries may have been triggered by his achilles rupture earlier in his career.
A previous serious injury may be, in some part at least, causing Kompany to have fitness issues later in his career?
Yeah. An achilles tendon injury is a big deal and an injury of that type can cause problems with the surrounding muscles. But there are no guarantees that the achilles issue is the cause of these recent injuries.
So what is the cause?
Wear and tear, getting older and now past a footballers physical peak of 23-27, lots of hard miles on the clock.
Should we be worried for his future health?
I'm not sure we should lose sleep over it. I'd be confident Man City have an excellent sports science department and are aware of the best way to manage Kompany, prevent future injuries and manage his game time effectively.
Just how much game time has he missed during his City career?
Kompany played ~90% of the available minutes in his debut season. Just over 50% in 09/10 due to a broken toe. Kompany was then a near ever present in 10/11 but since then he has missed an ever increasing amount of time. 81% in 11/12, 65% in 12/13 and 69% in 13/14.
Kompany is missing more and more games?
Yes and there is the possibility of a game or two of rust when he returns, not mention the number of games he has played when clearly not fit (eg. Liverpool away in 13/14)
Enough injury talk, he is still brilliant, right?
I think he is but we know love is blind.
Is he still a top defender in this league?
Probably not, injuries have taken a toll and he may not even be in the top 10 now.
I asked a guy who watches too much football where he would rank Kompany in terms of the best CB's in the Premier League.
@benjaminpugsley Rough guess, I'd say 10th? Maybe 15th?
— Ted Knutson (@mixedknuts) July 31, 2014
There's no malice here, just an objective opinion from a non-Man City fan.
But he is still mighty good, though?
I think so. A top 10 CB is nothing to smirk at, it's just that Kompany may not be the same player he was under Mancini.
A stable partner (Lescott), Mancini's system, hadn't suffered as many injuries.
How can Kompany get back to his very best?
I'd start by giving him an extended rest and trying to formulate a plan that keeps him as healthy as possible, even if that means Kompany missing some routine home games out of choice. Once that is in place I would sit down with Kompany and see if any aspects of his game need tweaking: should he be less aggressive, play deeper or higher, stand off more.
Basically, have a long technical look at his great seasons then check if anything has changed in recent seasons. If some things have changed then ask what are they, do they need to be fixed and what other tweaks and tips can be given to Kompany as his game evolves and as he gradually slows down. Also, is the current defensive scheme getting the best out of Kompany? Lots of questions.
Kompany is still vital to Man City and we notice this when he doesn't play?
Yep, he is still vital and boy did we ever suffer when Kompany was absent and we had to play Garcia with Lescott or Lescott and Nastasic. But that dependency on Kompany seemed to wane a little this year once Demichelis had grown to be comfortable in Pellegrini's system.
Personally, I would much rather see a teamsheet with Kompany's name on it than not on it but I feel much calmer having Demichelis', well, calm in the team if our captain was to miss a game or two. A CB pairing of Mangala and Demichelis on the right side may not be too much of a drop off from any potential pairing of Kompany/Demichelis or Kompany/Mangala. And this is a good thing, Kompany is still vital but it is nice to have options if he does miss games.
Is Kompany still our #1 center back?
How many league games will Kompany play in 14/15?
Ooof, I'd guess at 26.
That is a low number?
Look at his Time On Pitch% chart and the trend it shows. Kompany is 29 shortly, a little injury prone and there is now enough depth to let Kompany have the occasional rest week. Things are fine with Kompany, just give him a little rest, a little work on his game and things will be fine. I hope.