Saturday 24 March 2018

Kompany refusing to think about points record

Manchester City's Vincent Kompany Photo: PA
Manchester City's Vincent Kompany Photo: PA

Paul Wilson

Everyone at Manchester City seems to have been playing the numbers game over the past week. Pep Guardiola reached his 100th game in England, the 3-0 victory at Arsenal on Thursday meant his players have now recorded more league wins than they managed in the whole of last season, and City will reach an unassailable 90 points if they can win just half their remaining 10 games.

The likelihood based on the season so far is that City will win more than that proportion of games and Chelsea's record Premier League points total of 95 in 2004-'05 could be in danger. José Mourinho stands to see a personal benchmark from his previous club swept aside in addition to finishing some distance behind his Manchester rivals at his present one, though Vincent Kompany insists no one in the City team is spending any time looking at what might be statistically possible.

"After we played at Arsenal I was asking around in the dressing room about how many games were left and no one knew the answer," the City captain says. "That goes to show how much we are all living in the here and now and not thinking about things like breaking records. If we keep doing what we are doing then we will break records, that isn't rocket science, but we have got ourselves into this position by taking it step by step. Getting record points and record goals isn't in our minds, just winning the next game."

The next game is one of the tougher challenges of the remainder of the league programme, even if defending champions Chelsea are a long way off the thrilling pace they set last season. Their title defence has not been quite as shambolic as the one Mourinho attempted to supervise in 2015, though the eventual upshot could be just the same. Chelsea are fifth in the table and Antonio Conte has admitted that finishing outside the Champions League places is a possibility.

It is hard to believe now that 15 points separated the sides at the end of last season. City are 22 points ahead of last season's runaway winners, which is a whopping swing of 37.

That is the extent to which Guardiola and his players have turned things around this season, though as Kompany explains, the process began a year ago. "Last season we won our last few games and we have been able to carry that on," he says. "When we won the league in 2012 it was on goal difference and I said, 'Please, never again like this'.

"This has been a special week, lifting a trophy at Wembley, but this team has enjoyed a lot of special weeks this season. We have had some great moments and we have had three or four late wins, injury-time wins, and you can't explain what that does for your confidence.

"I can't remember the last time I looked around and thought we have played badly today, and I can honestly say you can't wish for anything better in football than a feeling like that. We have been brilliant this season, but now, when it matters most, I don't want the level to drop because there is still so much to do."

Kompany does not just want to keep the concentration high at Chelsea - "They have too much quality for us to think it will be easy; if Chelsea turn it on against us it will be tough" - he is already thinking of how to prepare for next season.

"If we do end up winning the title this season, I will be the first one in the dressing room to put the emphasis on how we approach the next campaign," he says. "I am talking about how people come back from their summer holidays, how they should approach training, everything. We have won two titles at this club and both times when we came back there was an edge missing.

"That is why it is so difficult to retain titles. Only special teams can do it, and we have to become that special team this time. If we do end up winning the title, and I still say 'if' out of respect to the other teams, then just watch me in pre-season.

"I will be looking into people's eyes to check if they have the same intensity. Our strength this season has been preparing for every game believing the team we are playing are going to hit us with everything they have. I want that to continue right through summer.

"In the past when we have won the title the intensity has been missing the following season."


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