Why Vincent Kompany missing Euro 2016 may be bad news for Ireland 4 years ago

Why Vincent Kompany missing Euro 2016 may be bad news for Ireland

Vincent Kompany broke the news himself on his Facebook page.

It was accompanied by the most Vincent Kompany statement imaginable.

One in which he asked fans not to feel sorry for him, one in which he showed typical resolve and selflessness; one in which he referenced the 'bigger pictures in life' in order to put his own issues into perspective.

Too much fucking perspective, as David St. Hubbins would  say.

Nobody really needs the spectre of, say, global famine encroaching into their though process as they ponder whether a Manchester City player's groin and thigh trouble will prevent him taking part in Pep Guardiola's first pre-season at the Etihad.

But Kompany is out of the Euros and the understandable reaction was that this was this was great news for Belgium's Group E opponents, including Ireland who meet Marc Wilmots' side in Bordeaux on June 18.

But the reality is that whatever the cause of it, whether it’s age or just a lack of match fitness, Kompany is not the player he was three years ago.

His season has been seriously disrupted by injury. His longest stretch of consecutive games was eight, back in August and September.

It is estimated that he has had 33 injuries in the past eight years. That kind of punishment on the body takes its toll.

When he has been on the pitch he has been error prone.

He has, at times, been careless,

And he has played in a manner that is ripe for exploitation by, let’s just say for the case of argument, an in-form Shane Long.

Clearly Kompany has been - and may still be - an elite defender. And it may well be that he would have found the reserves from somewhere to turn out his best performances in the summer.

But in Kompany’s absence, Belgium coach Wilmots has the option to turn to Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld to form a central defensive partnership.

That’s Vertonghen and Alderweireld, by common consent the two best defenders in the Premier League this season. The outstanding central defensive partnership in the team that has conceded the fewest goals in the division.

ANDORRA LA VELLA, ANDORRA - OCTOBER 10: Vincent Kompany of Belgium celebrates with this teammates after defeating andorra at the end of the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Andorra and Belgium at Estadi Nacional d'Andorra la Vella on October 10, 2015 in Andorra la Vella, Andorra. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Wilmots has preferred to play Vertonghen and Alderweireld in the full-back positions, pairing Kompany with Nic Lombaert's in the centre.

But without his talisman, he may well decide to turn to a tried and tested defensive partnership rather than try and bed in a new partner for Lombaerts in Belgium's warm-up friendlies.

 

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham Hotspur competes in an arial duel with Shane Long of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton at White Hart Lane on May 8, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Long had a chance on Sunday to test himself against the two men he will face in one position or another in Bordeaux as Southampton played Spurs at White Hart Lane.

Though Ray Houghton, commentating for Off The Ball, was a little bit critical of Long's display, citing a lack on anticipation and some wasteful finishing, the Spurs defenders were given a difficult time as Southampton won 2-1.

On TalkSport, Stan Collymore named Long man of the match, though it's probably worth bearing in mind that after the disappointment of Spurs conceding the title after the 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Monday, they may not have been at full tilt.

Long, though, should be able to take some heart if he finds himself up against Vertonghen and Alderweireld in June.

Though if we're looking at form over the past nine months he would probably rather see Kompany in front of him.