Vincent Kompany will always occupy a privileged place in the heart of Manchester City fans. Ancient players of Football Manager will tell you that Kompany was destined to be a great player, but few would have foreseen just how indelible a mark the Belgian would have left on the club when he signed in August 2008 from Hamburg.
360 appearances later, four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and three League Cups lifted, Kompany is the most successful captain in Manchester City history.
Yet, Kompany's bond with the fans runs much deeper than simply the unprecedented success he helped to bring to the club. The Belgian was a warrior on the pitch, who had to push his body to the brink countless times, and an unimpeachable character off it.
Humble, affable and eloquent, the defender's presence off the pitch is remembered as fondly as his heroic exploits on the field - well, perhaps with the exception of that goal v Leicester. Most notably, he used his testimonial to raise funds to tackle rampant homelessness in Manchester.
It was no surprise to see Kompany - a born leader and a natural intellectual - try his hand at management once he announced he would be departing City in 2019. A return to his boyhood club RSC Anderlecht beckoned, and City fans naturally have been rooting for Vinny's success in Brussels - many, indeed, with an eye on his possible return to the Etihad in the manager's seat in the future.
We spoke to Ward Geyssens last season to learn about how Kompany's debut season in management went - you can read that here if you missed it - and the owner of @RSCA_Inside kindly volunteered to provide us with some insight again on how Anderlecht and Kompany are faring in the legend's second season as a coach.
Hello, it’s nice to talk again! So, let’s begin by talking about the big news this season - Vincent Kompany’s retirement. How did you feel about the news, and do you think that it has been a positive for Anderlecht by allowing Kompany to focus solely on his off-the-pitch duties?
Hello, also nice to talk to you again. The news was a surprise for everyone. Kompany was great player, one of the best defenders of all time. I think it was the right choice to end his career and become our coach. It was no longer healthy for his body and he can now focus on his new career. It has definitely been positive for Anderlecht. It’s now clear who makes the decisions and that’s very important.
Jeremy Doku left for 26 million euros to Rennes - have Anderlecht being able to reinvest that money, and was the summer transfer window successful?
It was no fun to see him leave. He was our best player and could have been very important for us this season. The club really needed the money. Anderlecht's financial situation is still bad. Reinvesting Doku's 26 million euros in transfers was out of the question. The club had to do transfers with a limited budget in the summer.
Our most expensive transfer, Mustapha Bundu, hasn't been a good purchase for now. Lukas Nmecha, Paul Mukairu & Matthew Miazga are all 3 on loan and start every week....we’ll talk about Nmecha later. Anderlecht also bought Josh Cullen, who is in the starting line-up most of the time & made a few more transfers that mainly serve as back-ups.
Anderlecht currently sit 4th after 26 games on 41 points. They are two points behind 3rd place Genk, who they recently beat 2-1, but 19 points behind leaders Club Brugge. How do you feel about the season so far, and is the feeling among Anderlecht fans more positive than last season?
It comes with ups and downs. We have lost points many times in the last fifteen minutes of the game. That's a big problem and really frustrating, but I think in general the fans are more positive this season.
Last time we spoke, you said you would be happy if Anderlecht continued to play attractive football and finish in the top three in the 2020/21 season. Do you think that will happen?
I think we’re playing attractive football this season, beside from the last few games. We just need to be more efficient. I think it’s possible for us to finish in the top three this season. A lot of teams are very close to each other, but I feel like our transfer window was good and we will be stronger in 2021.
How has Kompany developed as a coach this season? Have you noticed any changes in his approach, his style, his tactics? What are his best qualities and what might be his weaknesses?
Kompany was always a fan of the ‘inverted wing-back’ but I think he knows our team isn’t ready for that system in the exaggerated way he tried for a long time last season. Kompany’s best quality is definitely making young players better and giving them a lot of confidence. Also in general, we’re playing good football.
His weaknesses? Personally, I don’t think his substitutions are always working out well. That’s maybe one of the reasons why we lose so many points in the last fifteen minutes of the game and I would like to see our backs play higher on the pitch and overlap more.
What has Anderlecht’s style of play being this season - is it still ‘Champagne Voetbal’?
We try to have the ball as much as possible and when we lose the ball, we try to get back in possession as quickly as possible. During difficult games, we sometimes leave the ball to the opponent. That doesn't happen often, normally we have possession and we try to create as much chances as possible. It’s sometimes very attractive, but the team has to do much better than this to call it ‘Champagne Voetbal’.
Do you think Kompany will become a world class manager in the future - and, perhaps, be a possible successor to Pep Guardiola in Manchester?
It’s possible, but difficult to predict right now. It’s his first season as a full-time manager. You should know that Pep Guardiola was pushing Kompany very hard last season to come back to Manchester to become his assistant. The fact that he stayed, proves that he will first finish the job here before thinking about maybe going back to Manchester in the future.
Let’s talk about Lukas Nmecha. He has 10 goals in 18 games. Recently, he has been talking about possibly joining Anderlecht permanently. How highly do you rate him and what do you think his potential is?
Lukas Nmecha is a very important player this season. He doesn’t only score a lot, he’s a good player and it’s very difficult to defend against him. I don’t think it’s possible for Anderlecht to sign Nmecha permanently, but I hope the club will try to loan him for one more season.
He has the potential to be a great striker in the future, it’s difficult to really tell what his ceiling is. Manchester City is one of the best clubs in the world, so it won’t be easy for him there but he can definitely play for a smaller club in the Premier League.
Manchester City signed young midfielder Romeo Lavia from Anderlecht earlier this year. Would you be able to tell us anything about the player and how highly he was regarded by the club?
Romeo Lavia was one of the best players in our academy. No one wanted to see him leave. He’s a strong player with good feet. Lavia can play as a defensive midfielder, center-back or even as a left-back and right-back. I think that if he stayed, he would have made his first team debut by now. He has the potential to play for the biggest clubs in the world.
Who are Anderlecht’s current young stars, and which players do you think could be the next to follow in the footsteps of Kompany and become huge names throughout European football?
I expect Sambi Lokonga (21) to make a big move this summer. AC Milan is interested in him, just like many other big names in European football. Center-back Hannes Delcroix (21) is having a very good season and got his first national team call-up.
Anouar Ait El Hadj (18) is playing very well recently. Kristian Arnstad (17) and Mario Stroeykens (16) have both made their first team debut this season. The latter is considered one of the greatest talents from our academy.
Yari Verschaeren (19), Marco Kana (18), Killian Sardella (18), Francis Amuzu (21) and Antoine Colassin (19) are also big talents. It’s difficult to predict who has world class potential. In my opinion, Sambi Lokonga, Mario Stroeykens, Marco Kana and Yari Verschaeren have the biggest chance to play for the best clubs in the world. The other players also have a chance to play for a big club later, but I think those four are considered the biggest talents.
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City Xtra would like to thank Ward for his answers - you can follow him and Kompany's time at Anderlecht here: @RSCA_Inside
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