Following a match that will be remembered as the most one-sided FA cup final in recent history and Vincent Kompany’s last outing in a City shirt, there’s no shortage of things to talk about.
Here’s what we learned from the final chapter of an exceptional campaign…
A Fairy-Tale Ending for the Skipper
Vincent Kompany is the most decorated captain in the club’s history having collected a staggering 12 trophies during his time at the club. Widely recognised as one of the greatest defenders in Premier League history, the Belgian has been voted a member of the PFA Team of the Year three times and was also named the 2012 Premier League Player of the Season.
The legendary figure has amassed 360 appearances for the club – a figure that would be much higher had he been more fortunate injury-wise. During his time at the club, the skipper has found the back of the net 20 times, including scoring a 30-yard screamer against Leicester City in his final game at the Etihad Stadium – a goal which proved vital in the club retaining the league title for the first time ever.
The morning after the match, Kompany announced that after 11 years, that he was leaving the club. Following his announcement, tributes have flooded in from pundits and famous fans alike, with the likes of Alan Shearer, Jamie Carragher and Liam Gallagher all hailing the legendary defender.
The ultimate professional whose influence both on and off the pitch is staggering, the Belgian will be a very difficult player to replace and he is a true legend of the club. As Gary Neville emphatically stated: “Where do you want your statue, Vincent Kompany?”
“We Are The Fourmidables”
The club’s latest slogan takes pride in the fact that Manchester City are the first team to complete a clean sweep of the four English domestic trophies available to top-flight clubs: the Community Shield, the League Cup, the Premier League and the FA Cup.
During his 3 years at the club, Guardiola has moulded City into a side that plays ruthless attacking football whilst collecting football trophies like Pokémon. The 2018/19 season is undoubtedly the most successful in the club’s history and a major factor contributing towards this is the strength in depth that City possess. This squad depth has allowed the club to challenge for every trophy available without overworking the players. City have played a mammoth 61 games and the campaign would not have been as successful had it not been for the contributions of squad players such as Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez, who each scored the only goal in one of the two 1-0 league victories over Tottenham. In previous years, the club has focused on maintaining at least two quality players in every position, which has allowed Pep to rotate the starting XI without detriment.
The combination of ambitious young players and experienced, older players has proved to create a fantastic environment for the team. Due to their experience, David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho have been the locker-room leaders that have helped to nurture the younger players such as Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden and, hopefully, their influence will prove vital in the evolution of the younger players.
The Prince that was Promised
“The Prince”, as he has been nicknamed by his City teammates due to his resemblance to Prince Harry, has endured a frustrating campaign plagued by injury. However, Kevin De Bruyne’s excellent 35-minute performance showed the world just how good a player the champions have been missing throughout the season.
Watford’s game plan of sitting deep and attempting to counter-attack was made redundant following City’s second goal and, after the break, Watford altered their tactics and looked to attack the game through pressing higher up the pitch in search of a route back. De Bruyne was introduced to the Wembley pitch 10 minutes into the second half with City enjoying a comfortable 2-0 lead. Almost immediately, the Belgian had a profound impact, running riot at Wembley as he relentlessly attacked the Hornet’s defence. De Bruyne scored City’s third goal before grabbing two fantastic assist. This short but majestic performance earned him the Man of the Match award.
Kevin De Bruyne’s lack of game time throughout the season, fortunately, didn’t hinder City as was initially feared, due to Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan more than compensating for the creativity lost in the midfield during De Bruyne’s absence. However, De Bruyne is genuinely world-class and providing he can stay fit, his presence next season will feel like a new signing.
Jesus is Progressing
When the line-ups were announced prior to kick-off, a lot of fans were surprised to see Gabriel Jesus starting an FA Cup final ahead of the club’s all-time top goal scorer Sergio Aguero. However, City fans had no reason to worry as the young Brazilian looked at home on the Wembley pitch, scoring a brace (despite Sterling’s best efforts).
His tireless work-rate on the large Wembley pitch and his excellent link-up play showed why Guardiola has so much faith in the Brazilian. Jesus got on to the end of a Bernardo Silva cross to give City a deserved second goal and an excellent through ball by Kevin De Bruyne left the Brazilian one on one before sliding the ball past his compatriot in the Watford goal. Although Aguero is still only 30, Gabriel Jesus has been earmarked as a potential long-term successor for the Argentine since before to his arrival, and his progression and evolution as a footballer is evident for every fan to see.
The young Brazilian possesses tremendous technical ability, an excellent work-rate and a great attitude, Jesus undoubtedly has the potential to become a top-class striker. Under the tutelage of Guardiola, whilst training with some of the best players in the world (and hopefully with increasing game time), Jesus will surely blossom into one of the world’s best.
Manchester City will face Liverpool in the Community Shield
The FA Community Shield is commonly referred to as a glorified friendly and often isn’t taken very seriously by fans or managers. Sir Alex Ferguson has quipped that he used his team’s appearances in the match as a “barometer for fitness”. However, other managers such as Antonio Conte and Claudio Ranieri have both dismissed the notion that the game is simply a friendly. Regardless, the general feeling towards the fixture by the media and most fans is apathetic.
The Community Shield is usually contested by the winners of the Premier League and the FA Cup, but due to City emerging victorious in both competitions, the match will now be contested by the Premier League’s top two sides from the previous campaign. Liverpool were worthy runners-up in the 2018/19 campaign, pushing City until the final day of the season despite the Blues amassing 98 points, the second highest total in history.
Due to Manchester City and Liverpool currently being far and away the best two teams in the country, the game looks to be an intense affair, and while second-string teams are likely to be fielded, the game may not be as lacklustre as previous years as both sets of fans will be clamouring for their team to emerge victorious.
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