Guardiola hopeful ‘quality’ Kompany will sign contract extension
Manager denies claim the grass on Etihad Stadium pitch was left long to slow down Liverpool
Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany during the match against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, on January 3th. Photograph: Reuters/Phil Noble
Pep Guardiola is hopeful Vincent Kompany, who is in discussions with the club, will sign a contract extension. The club’s Belgian captain, who joined from Hamburg in 2008, has a deal that expires in the summer, by which time he will be 33. He is due to have a testimonial in the close season, and is keen to sign on again.
“We are talking about that – I would like it,” Guardiola said. “He’s our captain, 11 years here, we saw in the last two [league] games the huge quality and personality he has to play. The only problem with Vincent is one: his injury problems.”
The matches Guardiola was referring to were the wins over Southampton and Liverpool, for which Kompany was recalled. Asked whether his defence is stronger when Kompany plays, the manager said: “One against one absolutely we’re better when Vincent plays. [Aymeric] Laporte has a better left foot – every central defender has his own quality – but there’s no doubt Vincent has something special with his charisma, winning the duels. It’s incredible, he’s one of the best central defenders I’ve ever seen. The problem is whether he’s fit.”
With Burton at the Etihad for Wednesday night’s League Cup semi-final first leg, City are guaranteed to play at least five more domestic matches than Liverpool this season, after Jürgen Klopp’s team were knocked out of the FA Cup and League Cup in the third round. Guardiola is unsure whether this could give Liverpool an advantage in the title race.
“I don’t have a theory from my experience about that. If everyone is fit and not injured we can cope with it. The problem is if you have 10 injured players, it’s almost impossible. When everyone is fit, it’s better.
“If we had just one competition to play in, I could play with the same 11 or same 12. Now everyone is involved – the players don’t know who will play against Burton. Then after four days we have another final at home to Wolves [in the league] .
“I prefer it, definitely – I like to be in the four competitions as far as possible. When Wigan put us out of the FA Cup last season I was sad. I take the cups seriously. Against Rotherham [Sunday’s 7-0 FA Cup win], for example, we played with nine players who didn’t play against Liverpool and the nine were a good selection.
“It was perfect for the rhythm for Kevin [De Bruyne], [Ilkay] Gündogan, Nico [Otamendi] , Kyle [Walker] . It’s better to play Rotherham. Seventy minutes for Kevin at full intensity and tomorrow trying to play a little longer.”
Guardiola has denied a claim that the grass on the Etihad Stadium pitch was left long to slow down Liverpool during Manchester City’s 2-1 win last Thursday. Guardiola said about the assertion on the Anfield Wrap podcast: “I’m not the greenkeeper. I never did – if they want to play quick, we want to play quicker; always we try to put water [on] but it’s not necessary here because of the weather.
“We want to cut the field all the 10 years [of his career]. It’s better conditions for both teams – when this happens, you do the best for opponents. We have to respect them with the rules. I never speak with the groundsman. I trust the groundsman, I never made a phone call to say do this to damage our opponents.”
Guardiola hopes to have Benjamin Mendy back soon following a knee injury that has ruled out the defender since early November.“He’s much better, maybe two or three weeks and he’ll be with us,” said Guardiola, who has the rest of his squad available.