WHEN Vincent Kompany returns to work from his summer holidays, a quick look at his team-mates will tell him how Manchester City will get on next season.
Kompany has just lifted the Premier League title for the third time as City captain, but now he wants to defend it.
After winning it in 2012 and 2014, City then came second the following seasons, but 11 and eight points behind the respective winners, Manchester United and Chelsea.
However, the Belgian believes this is a new era under Pep Guardiola and has challenged his team-mates to get better.
That seems a tall order after the exploits of this campaign. Last Wednesday’s 3-1 win saw City set the records for the most wins, most points and most goals in a single Premier League season.
Victory at Southampton this afternoon would see them end with an incredible 100-point haul.
But rather than use that as motivation, Kompany is more concerned about his team-mates not letting their high standards slip.
“No-one has ever done 97 points before, so the target is achieved in that sense,” he says. “What I will always say is we have to set up next season.
“Even more important than the 100 points, you don’t want to finish the season on a bad note.
“Nothing will take away what we have achieved already, but we just want to carry on. If it’s Southampton or the first game of next season, it’s the same. We need to carry on.
“From past experience I wait for pre-season and I wait for the eyes and the attitude of my team-mates.
“If I see that everybody has got energy and desire to go and win the friendly games, then I will be confident that we can carry on.
“But as for pre-season, let’s wait until everyone has gone to the World Cup and celebrated their holidays.
“Then we will see if they come back with the same mindset. That is key.
“The mindset for us must be to improve. That’s how it should be with anything in life.
“When you come into training, you should want to improve. Otherwise just stay at home. That is the way I look at it.
“These players, being young, are so hungry to still improve and to be much better.
“I am way more of a finished article now I’m 32 than I was when I was 22, 23. So I would hope they see the same potential in their careers and this makes us stronger next season.
“Whatever we improve, it isn’t because of anything we have lacked this season. It’s more because we want to push on and drive competition.
“Competition has been the strength of this club for a long time, so they will bring in whoever they need to bring in and it will make us better once again.”
Kompany is one of only four players to have been part of all three of City’s Premier League titles, along with David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure.
Toure was given a rousing send-off last Wednesday as he played his final game, with his contract being up this summer.
His captain recognises what a huge contribution the Ivorian has made in his eight years in Manchester.
Toure leaves with seven major trophies under his belt, but so many decisive moments in all of those successes.
With stalwart right-back Pablo Zabaleta having left last summer, and now Toure, Kompany accepts that a changing of the guard is taking place at the club.
“Yaya is one of the most influential players I have across,” he admits.
“He is shy and funny at the same time and it’s phenomenal to have shared a dressing room with him. When you see his highlights, you see what a great player he was.
“When you look back, we have sometimes forgotten how good he was.
“With time going by and the fact we might never find a player like him again, we might realise what a very special player he was.
“I didn’t wait for anyone to leave to think about having to grab my chance or anything like that.
“For me, being injured and coming back every single time, you even enjoy training.
“To put it in comparison, it’s like living in Manchester and seeing the sun every now and again. I have been here for 10 years now, so I know.
“It’s the same feeling and I am cherishing every moment and I am lucky to be part of another era.
“This is the beginning of something. That is certainly how it feels anyway.”