The Hamburg Connection
Rob Yates sent Vital Manchester City the following.
Two of our most consistent players this season have been Nigel De Jong and Vincent Kompany and both have endeared themselves to the City faithful with their no-nonsense approach and must be contenders for player of the season. With another player widely expected to join from the pair's previous club Hamburg, Jerome Boateng. I think Vincent and Nigel deserve a bit of press for their efforts this season.
Vincent Kompany is a player many fans knew about from his teenage years at Anderlecht where he was consistently dubbed as a wonder kid. As a fan of computer games such as Championship Manager and Pro Evolution I was delighted when Mark Hughes brought him to the club as on the games he was a tall, strong defender and I recall thinking he would be the perfect partner for Dunne in defence.
Mark Hughes however utilised Kompany mainly as a defensive midfielder in his first season, partly due to the cover we already had in defence but also as the player himself stated he prefers to play in midfield. Although he made a good impression and became an integral part of our team I don't think he really ever justified the tag of ''wonder kid' from his early years and we didn't get the best out of him. This season however he moved into defence when Lescott got injured and the Belgian hasn't looked back since.
Toure and Lescott are too similar in trying to be skilful with the ball whereas Kompany provides a good contrast to Toure with his no nonsense approach similar to Richard Dunne who we missed earlier in the season. With Toure and Lescott we leaked too many goals and our attacking prowess was being comprised by the defence.
Since Kompany has returned from injury and provided cover in defence, we have looked a lot better at the back and that has allowed our attacking players to grab the full three points and the headlines. I think the Belgian could be a serious contender for captain next season as he seems to be the one organising the defence instead of Toure.
City fans have always liked players who get stuck in such as Andy Morrison in the past and Zabaleta and Kompany in the current squad. Kompany's fellow ex-Hamburg team mate Nigel De Jong certainly falls into that category too. When Mark Hughes brought De Jong to the club in January 2009 for a fee of around £16 million, it wasn't clear exactly why Hughes had spent so much on a player who would have been available for £1.8 million at the end of the season. Like Kompany, De Jong was another ex-wonder kid although at Ajax he used to play at right back.
In his first half season the Dutchman provided good cover for the other defensive midfielders and started showing signs of his potential. It wasn't until this season however that De Jong showed his class as a defensive midfielder, doing the ugly parts of the game and stopping the opposition playing. De Jong is now one of the first names on the team sheet and his work in front of the defence is reminiscent of Makelele at Chelsea. Unfortunately for De Jong he couldn't play for us in the UEFA Cup last season as only three out of the four new signings could be registered and he was the odd man out so he, like the fans, is desperate for European football to display his skills on the biggest club football stage.
Although questions have been raised about his timing for tackles and his disciplinary record, De Jong will be imperative for us in the remaining four games and thankfully his previous yellow cards tally has now expired. I think Nigel De Jong will be one of the unsung heroes in the forthcoming World Cup and he is one of the reasons I think Holland could win the trophy. Hopefully by then we'll be in the Champions League and won't be worried about him being scouted for one of Europe's major teams.
Whilst Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor have grabbed the headlines this season and Tevez is the obvious choice for player of the season, its players like Kompany and De Jong who have provided the foundation for City's tactics and style. The background both players had in the physical Bundesliga has benefited City this season and with another Hamburg player seemingly set to sign for us in the summer, we will hopefully have an additional player with Kompany's and De Jong's attributes.
If Jerome Boateng does join, he will add competition at right back and in the centre of defence which will be imperative if we are playing in several competitions next season. Hopefully including the Champions League!