For all of Manchester City's extravagant spending in the past few seasons as their Emirates-based owners pushed for the glamour of conversing with the Champions League confederacy, it took the emergence of an Eastlands regular to guide the blue half of the city to the promised land.
Revered names such as Yaya Toure, David Silva and Edin Dzeko arrived across the 2010-11 campaign to facilitate entry into the Premier League's top four, yet Vincent Kompany's stature at the heart of Roberto Mancini's backline dispatched their overwhelming offensive talent into the shade. The Belgian came of age throughout the season, and finally vindicated the burgeoning reputation that followed him to English football from Hamburg in 2008.
Playing alongside both Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott across different spells of the season, Kompany's cultured, considered approach coupled with an uncompromising streak saw him become the driving force behind City's excellent defensive displays. Indeed, Kompany and Co. ended the season with the joint-best record for the least amount of goals conceded in the top-flight (33), along with Chelsea, and the 25-year-old missed just a single league fixture.
|"I am lucky to play alongside him, and if he continues the way he is going, he can be as good as [Nemanja] Vidic."
- Team-mate Aleksandar Kolarov
Advocates of the ability of Carlos Tevez will point to the mercurial Argentine's goals as the primary driver behind what can be considered one of the finest seasons in City's history, but Kompany's ability to fearlessly engage with some the division's finest forwards, and emerge unscathed, was equally as impressive.
|MOMENT OF THE SEASON
| FA CUP FINAL:
MANCHESTER CITY 1-0 STOKE
|Kompany collected his first honour in English football at Wembley, strolling through the contest as City triumphed thanks to a Yaya Toure strike.
The tone for his season was set against Chelsea in September, proving to be a tower of strength and mental fortitude in a 1-0 win, also shutting out Manchester United in a scoreless encounter two months later. His performances began to define City's steely resolve, as he became as one of the most dependable defenders in the country.
His ability to lead from the back did not go unnoticed, as Kompany graduated to team captain in the absence of Tevez in the season run-in. He led the side to victory over cross-city rivals United in a breathless FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, and also played a pivotal role in April's away triumph at Blackburn Rovers, a result that all but clinched the Champions League place the club's owners desperately craved.
FA Cup glory against Stoke followed, with the now-notoriously stingy City rearguard maintaining another clean sheet with Kompany in control. His consistency was duly recognised by the PFA, who named the former Anderlecht talent in their 2010-11 Team of the Season - alongside Tevez.
With the diminutive forward's future currently unclear, there appears only one candidate to lead Mancini's side into uncharted European territory next year, and an impending new contract followed by a subsequent pay rise appears to be the least the club can offer one of the more professional and unflappable members of their ranks.
|"With Tevez's future currently unclear, there appears only one candidate to lead Mancini's side into uncharted European territory next year."
With further expenditure likely at Eastlands before the transfer window reaches its dying embers, the man who cost just £7 million three years ago proved to be their Player of the Year in the most memorable of seasons. With the market as inflated as ever, that could prove to be one of the finest pieces of business City ever conduct.