After eleven seasons, four Premier League titles, and eight English cups, Vincent Kompany closed the door to his Manchester City career. Last summer Kompany believed it was about time he returned to RSC Anderlecht, the club of his heart.
In Brussels, he combines the role of player-manager, where his qualities as a footballer still exceed the standard of the Belgian Jupiler Pro League. Kompany takes on a different role in the Lotto Park, where he wants to introduce Pep Guardiola’s football.
This tactical analysis focuses on Kompany’s evolution from a top defender at Man City to a game-defining figure at Anderlecht.
Role at Anderlecht
Even more than in Manchester City, Kompany is the great leader on the field at Anderlecht. The captain directs, communicates clearly, and guides. And with his football qualities, Vince “The Prince” often asserts himself, though sometimes a little too much. Maybe that’s logical as well since Kompany plays far below his level in the Jupiler Pro League.
Nevertheless, in this scout report we can highlight significant differences between the Kompany in Manchester City and the Kompany in Anderlecht. The first we will have a look at in this analysis is the build-up.
Here we see the standard offensive build-up at RSC Anderlecht this season. Their tactics always build from the back, with Kompany pushing deeper and deeper to find the openings. Fellow central defender Elias Cobbaut always remains in the back while defensive midfielder Peter Zulj is almost at the same height on the pitch as Kompany.
At Manchester City, Kompany was mostly the last man in the offensive build-up from the back, which meant a lot fewer risks in his play. Kind of similar to the role Elias Cobbaut currently has at Anderlecht, while Kompany takes the role of Aymeric Laporte.
Kompany puts more risk in his own game by explicitly asserting himself in the game image. And logically that reduces his efficiency, not that this should be a tragedy. Kompany nevertheless always stands out above all others, but it is an important and notable observation.
At Anderlecht, for example, Kompany counts fewer successful actions per game than was the case last season at Manchester City. During the current campaign in the Jupiler Pro League, he presents an average of 87 actions per match with a total success rate of 81.5%. In the Etihad Stadium that was 97 actions at 87%, so there were more successful duels and more efficiency at City.
In Belgium, Kompany more often dares to take on a dribble. At Anderlecht, he attempted 12 dribbles of which 83% succeeded effectively. At Manchester City, Kompany only deployed 4 dribbles last season, but he didn’t lose the ball for once.
But with those 83% successful dribbles Kompany still ranks in the top three of the Jupiler Pro League. Among the central defenders, only Pol Garcia (Sint-Truiden) and Naomichi Ueda (Cercle Brugge) were more efficient in their dribbles. Moreover, this duo deployed remarkably fewer dribbles per game than Kompany. The Anderlecht’s defender tried 0.78 dribbles per match. Garcia and Ueda tried 0.39 and 0.26 dribbles per match, respectively.
According to the philosophy of his mentor Pep Guardiola, Vincent Kompany’s Anderlecht is always trying to build from the back. And that includes the necessary risks, such as in the away game against KV Mechelen.
A playmaker in defence
One facet in Kompany’s game is his playmaking abilities. At Anderlecht, Kompany sets the tempo of the match with a cutting or very complex pass. That’s why his passing at Anderlecht is slightly less efficient than we are used to from him.
Anderlecht’s stylish defender sends out more long-distance passes than at City, almost twice as many, but his efficiency is a lot lower. In terms of shorter distance passes, Kompany is a bit more involved at Lotto Park. But here as well, his accuracy is lower than in the Premier League.
At Manchester City, Kompany launched an average of 4 long passes per match, with a decent success rate of 63.5%. At Anderlecht, there are almost 10 long passes per match but at ‘only’ 58% efficiency.
With the shorter passes, the difference is somewhat smaller: 70 passes per match (a 88%) at Anderlecht, compared to 82 passes at City (at 94%). But let’s be clear about this – Kompany does undertake much more difficult passes at Anderlecht than he did at Manchester City.
He often makes the difference by playing such complex passes, because Kompany has no equal at Anderlecht, even though he is a central defender.
Thanks to Kompany’s excellent vision, the long pass creates an opportunity for Anderlecht.
Unfortunately for the team, it did not result in a shot. The lack of offensive power proved to be a problem at Anderlecht on several occasions, despite the many deliveries from Kompany.
Kompany supplied Anderlecht with 19 through passes and he also dropped 21 balls in the box. That’s a considerable difference compared to last season when he sent a total of barely 2 through passes and 6 balls into the box at Manchester City.
But at Anderlecht, the efficiency in both areas is a lot lower. Barely 36.8% of his through passes ended this season with an Anderlecht teammate, while with City it was still 50%. The balls in the box also arrive less often: 52% at Anderlecht compared to 83% at City.
Here, Kompany is advancing again from his defensive position to launch an attack. He tries to do that again by using a sharp long pass. Anderlecht’s line of attack immediately takes up position as Kompany moves up.
The long pass, however, does not reach one of his teammates, causing Anderlecht to lose the ball. This is an example of how Kompany sometimes wants to determine Anderlecht’s game too often. Kompany may be a defender, but he has always loved to own the ball. The Red Devil’s footballing ability is therefore beyond dispute as are his pure defensive qualities.
His passing, both short and long-distance, remains above average for the Jupiler Pro League. But as we mentioned above, sloppiness often creeps into his game. More so than it did at Manchester City.
At Anderlecht, Kompany loses the ball on average 8 times per game played. That number is quite a lot as a defender. But also here the nuance has to be made that a complex passing option always involves more risk. We see other fellow defenders in the Jupiler Pro League doing so only rarely by the way.
But Kompany more than compensates for the loss of the ball by recovering the ball eight times per match and making five successful interceptions.
Through his eleven-year career in the Premier League, Kompany was able to fully develop his footballing qualities and he also grew into a muscular athlete. On a physical level, Vince “The Prince” had little or no difficulty with the opposition in England. Also at Anderlecht he rarely gets into trouble. However, his physical condition continues to give cause for concern – Kompany only played 50.4% of Anderlecht’s total possible playing time.
Nevertheless, Kompany maintains its high level of duelling power in Belgium. At Anderlecht, he takes on a little more duels than his past at Manchester City. Given the level difference between the two competitions, Kompany also wins more duels in the Jupiler Pro League.
Last season he won 62.5% of his duels, his Anderlecht’s average is slightly higher with 67%. In the aerial duels, Kompany performs just as well at both clubs, even though he only has to take on two at Anderlecht per match – about half as much as at Manchester City.
In Belgium, he only has to compete for 2.72 per match, compared to 4.35 aerial duels at Manchester City. So his success rate in this part is a lot higher this season. It proves the physical strength of Kompany, a calibre that few players in the Jupiler Pro League can match.
This analysis has shown that Vincent Kompany sets the bar very high for himself, by letting Anderlecht reflect the football of the great Pep Guardiola. In Anderlecht, Kompany is just about the only player who can effectively play that high-quality football. Which means that he often takes the initiative himself as a defensive player.
That great effort inevitably comes with more risk and less efficiency. Despite this, Kompany remains the best central defender in the Jupiler Pro League. Although the team does crave one or two players who can really support Kompany at the desired way of football if they want to get back to playing Champions League football.