Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says that it is a “pity” that he was not able to play ‘legendary’ Vincent Kompany more as the two prepare for their emotional reunion this weekend.
The former Belgian defender takes his Burnley side to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the FA Cup. It signals Kompany’s first return to his former club since his departure in 2019.
The showdown is also the 36-year-old’s first trip to City as a manager. In taking on his former club, he will face off with former boss Guardiola – the pair having spent three seasons together during the twilight of Kompany’s playing career
Ahead of the clash, the Spaniard has waxed lyrical about his former captain’s legendary standing with City but has bemoaned his persistent injury issues before his departure from the Etihad Stadium.
“He’s [Kompany] an incredibly important figure here. He’s one of the biggest legends I had,” said Guardiola. “Personally I have one little pity – that sometimes he was sometimes injured for a lot of time when we were together but the important thing was from day one how he helped me.
“I arrived here from another country, I didn’t know the Premier League and he used to make a step forward in the locker room in the bad moments to help the team, and personally to me say the things he believed was best for the club. He was an exceptional captain, a top human being, and I’m really pleased.
“On the other side, I’m concerned because when you start to play a game and the opponent on the touchline is a player that you had, you realise how old you are becoming. That is a little bit frustrating, but it’s nice to see him. He wants to win, we want to win, and we will take it seriously.”
Kompany and Guardiola enjoyed a hugely productive relationship in Manchester. The pair won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and two League Cups together.
The Belgian was not an automatic pick for Guardiola though with just 62 appearances over their three campaigns together – and just 53 starts in all competitions – after dealing with a host of injury issues.
It has been suggested that Kompany could potentially be the man to replace Guardiola whenever he chooses to leave the Etihad Stadium but the former Anderlecht boss does not believe he should be under consideration yet.
“I think City should always have the best manager in the world nobody else and that is not me,” he said. “So focus is just Burnley getting better and we will see.
“They [Man City] have the best manager in the world today and I hope he stays for another 10 years and if not they should have the best manager in the World after Pep. From my side I am way down the ranking.”