Vincent Kompany’s managerial journey takes him to the small Lancastrian town of Burnley. The recently relegated outfit parted ways with their long-standing manager Sean Dyche towards the fag end of last season, with Mike Jackson taking over on a caretaker basis. The Belgian is not unfamiliar with the region, having embellished his greatness in the sky-blue of Manchester City. An inspirational figure spanning the early years of the Sheikh Mansour era to Pep Guardiola’s tippy-tappy brilliance, the ex-defender has spread himself thin over Lancashire’s football terrain.
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Starting his managerial career at his first club Anderlecht, Kompany’s footballing philosophy echoes the Juego de Posicion ethos of his once manager, Guardiola. After three years of rebuilding at Lotto Park, he is perhaps well adjusted to engineer a similar trajectory for Burnley FC. However, the task is more immediate than the long-term project at his previous club. Recently relegated, the Turf Moor outfit seeks an instant return to the Premier League’s riches. Under serious debt, one could argue that it might even make or break the football club.
But his task is made more difficult by a slew of exits from the club. With defensive mainstays, Ben Mee and James Tarkowski’s departure Burnley has a soft underbelly. Goalkeeper Nick Pope and promising attacker Maxwell Cornet are likely to leave. Their colossal Dutch forward Wout Weghorst has categorically dismissed any suggestions of playing in the Championship, potentially leaving Kompany with a skeletal first team. However, his greatest challenge lies in implementing his tactical blueprint at Burnley. Dyche’s ten-year stint, although wildly successful, was predicated on a more direct style. A bruising side to play against, especially on a cold, windswept day at the Moor, the Clarets married defensive solidity to a simple offensive game. A footballing purist, Kompany is unlikely to waver from his more technical style, even if results don’t come his way. Former Anderlecht goalkeeper Geert De Vlieger provides some insight into Vincent’s vision:
“There was a touch of Pep in his way of playing the game. He was ready to take on the challenge to make it not just an Anderlecht challenge but also a big Brussels challenge, meaning that all the young players from Brussels would get their chance in the first team and play his way of football and make the best out of it,” quotes the Guardian.
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It is to be seen whether Kompany will fall by his philosophical sword or teach his wards to wield it to devastating effect in one of the most competitive football leagues in Europe.