Vincent Kompany wants to take his young, new-look Burnley side back to the Premier League
Vincent Kompany witnessed a lot of change during his time at Manchester City, but even for him the first six weeks were a whirlwind in the hot seat at Burnley.
Kompany’s Clarets will look very different from the Sean Dyche model when they kick off the Championship season against Huddersfield on Friday night.
Following the relegation, nine players aged 29 or over have left, along with £20 million defender Nathan Collins, while interest remains in Maxwel Cornet and Dwight McNeil.
Former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany was appointed Burnley manager in June
Kompany has been tasked with bringing Burnley back to the Premier League as soon as possible
In their place, Kompany has signed eight, and more are on the way. Midfielder Josh Cullen is the oldest rookie at 26 and most are much younger, including City players CJ Egan-Riley, goalkeeper Aro Muric and Taylor Harwood-Bellis.
Bookmakers are skeptical of the big turnaround in style and the staff will immediately bring Burnley back to the Premier League, but Kompany is adamant that, despite all the change, he wants the club to remain a club that no one likes to play.
“I remember those trips to Turf Moor,” he says with a smile. ‘It’s an environmental issue. Everyone is just a little bigger, the fans are a little closer to the field, walking through the hallways is a little less comfortable.
“Being at one of these clubs suits me. It’s something I want to protect and then add my ideas about the game.
“We can change the system and I’ve never heard anyone complain about a coach saying he wants to attack and score goals. But a culture is not a system and it is difficult to create.
The Belgian is the most successful captain of Manchester City ever and has won several trophies
He was a mainstay of City’s backline for a number of years before leaving the club in 2019
“At Burnley there are good people all over the building and I want to keep it that way. This is how people treat each other and they stay together in difficult moments.’
Burnley punched above their weight during the Dyche years, but even some of their own supporters complained about the sterile way they played.
Now it’s Kompany’s turn to find the balance between style and results, against the background of financial constraints.
He is aware that interest in him is based on the fact that he is the most successful captain in City’s history. He won the FA Cup at Wembley in 2019 in his last game in England.
At the same time, he finds his experience as a manager just as relevant. He is only 36 and has rebuilt Anderlecht for the past three years with an inexperienced team.
“I don’t take offense if you don’t know what I have achieved as a player, but what we have done at Anderlecht is significant,” he says.
Burnley relegated last season, a year in which longtime manager Sean Dyche was sacked
Kompany has focused on youth in the transfer window this summer
“We believed in young players. I realized they need a path and if you commit to it, do it right. Ride the bad days with them and keep them going when they have good days.
“Give them time, eventually they’ll give you more than you can afford to buy.”
Kompany’s daring mission explains why Burnley fans are more excited about this season than would normally be expected.
Instead of older warhorses Chris Wood or Wout Weghorst leading the way, 22-year-old Scott Twine will lead the line after the signing of MK Dons, where he scored 20 goals last season. Kompany’s knowledge of the Belgian market led to Cullen rejoining him from Anderlecht.
His midfield partnership with Samuel Bastien, recruited to Standard Liège, should see one of last season’s success stories, Josh Brownhill, come to the fore. Brownhill delivered a hat-trick of assists in a 3-1 pre-season friendly win against Shrewsbury, that was a glimpse into the future.
22-year-old Scott Twine is expected to lead the Burnley attack after arriving this summer
Eyebrows were raised when Kompany agreed to come to Burnley, even though the Northwest is somewhere he knows well.
“My life has always been full of coincidences,” he says. “I met my wife, who is a fan of Manchester City, when I was playing for Hamburg.
I didn’t know then that I would get an offer from City later on. I would love to have moved to Germany, Italy, anywhere. But of course we’re being pulled back to the northwest where she comes from because of a football decision.
‘I have come to this project at the right time. We are in the environment of the Premier League, the best in the world. Going back to England would always happen at some point.’