Vincent Kompany has chosen a tough task at Burnley on his return to England | Burnley


B.Being appointed manager of Burnley was not part of Vincent Kompany’s plan. The Belgian returned to his first club, Anderlecht, in 2019 to start his managerial career after a decade of success at Manchester City and he was supposed to transform the team and leave Brussels with a host of trophies. Some rebuilding work was required, but despite the green shoots of hope, Kompany’s era was more evolutionary than revolutionary and his tenure ended three years on a four-year contract.

The eighth, fourth and third results showed progress, but not enough for the board, whose term was due to end one way or another this summer. There was no shortage of admirers for Kompany, who has a reputation as one of the most intelligent and eloquent men in football. But despite the “more attractive offers”, Kompany decided the next chapter would be to try to get Burnley back into the Premier League at the first moment of asking.

There are similarities between the situation he found in Anderlecht and the one he found in Turf Moor. A new team needed to be built in Brussels after the best players were sold and there was a desire to create a younger team, focusing on local players because the club lacked money to buy.


Burnley have a skeletal player body and have lost James Tarkowski and Ben Mee. The likes of Nick Pope and Maxwel Cornet are expected to leave and those who remain may find it difficult to adjust to Kompany’s tactics. He will need a new pair of captain and centre-back as a priority.

Anderlecht was a long-term project cut short, while Burnley will need short-term results to prevent the club’s financial situation from becoming dangerous.

Kompany used his contacts to bring players to Anderlecht that some would consider out of reach for other clubs in a similar position. His former teammates Samir Nasri and Nacer Chadli joined and youngsters from Manchester City and Bayern Munich were recruited.

“As there was no money at Anderlecht, he spent most of his work bringing in youngsters from the second team and from abroad that he knew well,” says former Anderlecht and City goalkeeper Geert De Vlieger. “With his contacts he tried to motivate the players to come and play for Anderlecht to show them the big picture.”

Captain and centre-back Ben Mee was a key figure for Burnley but he is leaving. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

Those players were attacked for their ability to fit into a team with a high-intensity style. It’s a philosophy Kompany will try to implement at Burnley and it’s far from what Turf Moor is used to after a decade of Sean Dyche. Burnley have £65m in debt to pay off, which could limit summer spending. Kompany is likely to turn to his former club City to borrow players to give them championship experience.

Kompany stuck to his philosophy through thick and thin because of his belief in how he wanted to play, even if it was detrimental in the short term.

“There was a touch of Pep in the way he played,” says De Vlieger. “I was ready to take on the challenge of making it not only an Anderlecht challenge but also a big Brussels challenge, meaning all the young players from Brussels would get their chance in the first team and play their style of football and do the best. outside the.

“The motto was ‘trust the process’. At times he seemed fine, but the problem was that when there were good young players like Sambi Lokonga, they had to let him go to Arsenal because they needed the money. That was something very difficult for Kompany: trying to do something with young players knowing that if they did well they would have to sell them.

The desire to play exciting football with a group of young players was exciting for Anderlecht, but the performances were patchy. He relied on finding the academy’s next talent whenever a rising star was sold. At Burnley, there is no successful academy to use, so Kompany will have to search far and wide to find his new team.

Kompany isn’t the finished article as a manager – to get to the top, you’ll need to be more pragmatic, especially in a league as competitive as the Championship. The arrival of Craig Bellamy on the coaching staff could provide the necessary second opinion that Kompany requires.

“I don’t think he made any big mistakes,” says De Vlieger, “but I think the big difference for him is that he has a philosophy of play, the way he played with Pep and City, but he did it with some very talented players and quality. If you try to do the same you need quality players and if you don’t have that level of player you have to change your style a bit because you are playing more against yourself than against your opponents. Sometimes his own team was more of a problem than the opponent.”

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Kompany’s return to England is fitting considering his wife is from Manchester and their three children were born in the region. He offers a logical path back to the Premier League and a chance to prove that he could one day manage City, where a statue of him stands outside the stadium. However, it will not be easy to start from scratch.

There is no doubt that Kompany has the ability to do things well, but it will take time and resources and they may be luxuries that Burnley, like Anderlecht, cannot afford.