Match Coverage

City 0-0 Dynamo Kiev: match report

Some machines need servicing, some just need throwing away. While completely disposing of the finest defender that has ever squeezed his muscle-bound torso into a sky blue shirt seems preposterous, it may be time to nudge Vincent Kompany towards the back of the store cupboard.

Kompany is our Optimus Prime; a commander equipped with the advanced weaponry required to decimate opposition. He defends mechanically; excellent positioning, intercepting and aggressive tackling come naturally to the 6ft 3 Belgian. He’s the jacked up bouncer to the nightclub, the barbed wire to the private school and the boyfriend to the stunner you were eyeing up at the bar. “I will accept this burden with all that I am” is certainly an apt motto for the skipper.

It’s bewildering, then, that something which seems so small has the power to bring this titan to his knees. Kompany’s main enemy is no Megatron, the captain has little trouble brushing aside the Diego Costas and the Harry Kanes of the Premier League, but a recurring calf problem that has claimed 135 days and 26 games of his Manchester City career. Add on the 31 days that Kompany is set to miss with the latest reappearance of the injury and that’s almost half a year spent with the demon that dances around in his right leg.

Six minutes into our less than compelling 0-0 draw against Dynamo Kiev last night Kompany was on the floor, his face resembling that of a mother who had spilled an entire two litre jug of milk all over her kitchen floor. “Calf,” he muttered to Pellegrini as he hobbled his way down to the treatment room, confirming the fears of City supporters. It was a disastrous start to the match.

Without Kompany, and to quote Prime yet again, it’s likely that “the hunt ends here”. Across all competitions, we’ve conceded a goal every 156 minutes with him in the side compared to one every 70 minutes without him. That’s a big, rather unsettling difference and neither Eliaquim Mangala nor Martin Demichelis looked comfortable when they came onto the pitch yesterday.

Mangala, replacing Kompany and making his first appearance since February, terrifies the life out of me and has demonstrated the technical ability of a one legged giraffe since joining us in 2014, but now really is the time for him to step up to the plate. As for Demichelis, who replaced Nicolás Otamendi after the Argentine pulled up with a dead leg, he is almost certain to depart in the summer and has shown signs of decline this term. Fortunately, the former Valencia man’s injury does not seem to be too serious and he, unlike his partner, could be fit for this Sunday’s Manchester derby.

We may have kept a clean sheet for the first time in this current European campaign, but an unambitious Kiev side gave our defenders very little to worry about. Needing at least three goals to have any chance of reaching the quarter finals, it was strange to see the visitors adopt such a reserved approach and the three shots they did manage to hit on target were easily dealt with by Hart. Manchester United aren’t particularly fond of shooting either, but Anthony Martial is a far more dangerous opponent than Łukasz Teodorczyk.

A few decent chances were again missed by City – Yaya Touré and Sergio Agüero threatened occasionally and both squandered efforts they may have found the back of the net with in previous seasons – but this was all so very comfortable for us. Reaching the last eight of the Champions League was our assignment and we completed it with minimal fuss.

Those who believe City had a duty to do anything other than qualify last night need their heads shaking.

But back we go to Vincent Kompany. As hard as it is to swallow, it’s clear that we can no longer rely on the 29-year-old to be our talismanic defender. If the fans know that, Pep will know it and the club will seek to bring in an experienced centre half without the baggage when the transfer window opens at the end of the season. Guardiola is a known admirer of Juventus’s Leonardo Bonucci, a robust defender with a comparatively sparkling history of injuries, and could be an ideal target.

Vinny has said in the past that such setbacks make him ‘stronger’, and while I wish him all the best with his recovery, I fear this could be the beginning of the end for him.

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