Ex-Newcastle favourite defends Manchester City's Vincent Kompany from criticism

Former centre-back Philippe Albert believes his fellow Belgian has been made a scapegoat in the English media.

Former Newcastle United defender Philippe Albert has defended compatriot Vincent Kompany from recent criticism, telling HLN that the Manchester City captain is still performing to his usual high standards.

Kompany, 29, has proved a rock at the heat of the City defence since arriving from Hamburg in August 2008, making 269 total appearances, while helping the club win two Premier League titles, the FA Cup in 2011 and the League Cup in 2014.

The Belgian centre-back has also been named to the PFA Team of the Year in three of the past four seasons, but has seen his form take a noticeable dip this term, amid fitness struggles and criticism from the media.

Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes singled him out as a weak spot in the Blues line-up following last month’s 2-1 Champions League defeat to Barcelona, while fellow ex-Red Gary Neville blasted him following his display in the weekend’s 2-1 loss at Liverpool.

“Vincent Kompany has turned into Mr Rash,” he told Sky Sports. “I don’t know what’s happened to him. He needs to settle his game down. Kompany loses out on a 50-50 with Coutinho.

“He’s going through a difficult moment, Vincent Kompany. It’s hard to know where his next good game is coming from.”

However, Albert, who appeared at two World Cups for Belgium, has rubbished those claims, insisting he sees no difference in Kompany’s form, while also claiming that only Paris-Saint Germain’s Thiago Silva is a more reliable defender in the game at the moment.

"His speed and explosiveness are still intact, I think I see no difference with the past, with the ball at his feet he can still move rapidly,” he said. “I only know one defender all over the world which hardly makes mistakes and that Thiago Silva.”

Albert instead believes that Kompany has been made a scapegoat for the poor defensive performances of others around him, and thinks it hasn’t helped that manager Manuel Pellegrini has been rotating between Martin Demichelis and Eliaquim Mangala alongside him.

“Every two or three weeks someone else is in the centre beside Kompany: Demichelis or Mangala,” he added. "It is also up to the others like Mangala to step up - Kompany cannot do everything alone.

“It is too easy for the British press to make him a target suddenly now.”

Kompany was on the bench for City’s 2-0 home win over Leicester City on Wednesday night, but Pellegrini insisted after the match that his skipper was given a rest rather than being sent a message.

Regardless, with the second-leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at Barcelona coming up next week, and the club still fighting to claw Chelsea back in the Premier League title race, the former Anderlecht star will have to be at the top of his game over the final stretch of the season.

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