Sunday 18 February 2018

Pep Guardiola unsure if Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany will ever regain his best form but backs John Stones

Vincent Kompany's latest injury has left him fighting to save his career. Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Vincent Kompany's latest injury has left him fighting to save his career. Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Luke Edwards

Pep Guardiola does not know whether Vincent Kompany will ever be back to his best at Manchester City, but is adamant his successor John Stones will cope with whatever abuse is thrown at him on his return to Everton this weekend.

Kompany, who has had 35 different injuries since he signed for City in 2008, has trained this week and is in contention to play at Goodison Park on Sunday, yet Guardiola conceded there are doubts about his long term future as he has had so many problems physically.

If Kompany can remain free of injuries and have a consistent run in the side, he remains City’s best defender, as well as their captain, but Guardiola is trying to make sure the 30-year-old does not put too much pressure.

However, with the Belgium international’s place in City’s Champions League squad under threat because of his injury record, Guardiola admitted he is not sure whether Kompany can be the same player for City.

Asked if Kompany could ever be as consistently impressive as he was in leading the team to two Premier League title wins, Guardiola replied: “I don’t know, it is a good question.

“It is not the first time we have talked about that. The good news is he is back and hopefully he stays fit for a long time because then we will see what level he is at.

“When he is fit, he is at the top level, we cannot deny how good Vincent is, but to achieve that maybe he needs a bit of time.

“Everybody needs that when you have been out for a long time. Mentally he is strong, he knows what he needs to do, but what I would like, is for him not to put a lot of pressure on himself.

“He needs weeks and weeks and weeks of training sessions and to just go out there and play the games. He doesn’t have to put pressure on himself to do amazing things, he just has to do the simple things and be the defender he was.

“Once he is back up and running, he will achieve the things he wants. His mentality is that he feels he wants to come back immediately. He wants to be perfect immediately. I know, in this business, you do not get time. You are judged immediately, but he has to feel his way. He has been away for a long, long time off the pitch.”

Guardiola may have concerns about his captain, but the Spaniard continues to believe that Stones will excel in a City shirt and backed him to come through an emotional return to Everton without too much trouble.

“I think John is strong enough to handle the situation,” said Guardiola., who will once again be without new signing Gabriel Jesus this weekend because of problems with the Brazilian's international clearance.

“I'm not concerned about what Everton decide to do [to him]. Hopefully they can respect him, because I know how John respects the club, because they helped him to develop his performance and play in the Premier League. "After what happened in the past with other players [going back], I cannot expect absolutely everything, so I would not be surprised [if he is abused].

“I think all former players, when they go back to where they once played, they want to play as well as possible.

“They want to show how good they are. I think they don't have regrets or think about what happened, it's completely the opposite. John is in the position he is in now because of Everton.”

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