Various ex-footballing greats from the Premier League have dipped their toes into management in the last few years, the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard the obvious shouts with both occupying manager roles at Everton and Aston Villa after jobs elsewhere.
Burnley have gone a bit left-field with their appointment however, not going for a former England international as their new man in the dug-out. Rather, The Clarets have opted for a Belgian as their next manager – the former Manchester City great Vincent Kompany finally unveiled after weeks of speculation.
A bold appointment, especially with Burnley’s recent relegation after six successive Premier League campaigns, Vincent Kompany will have his work cut out in the Championship next season as an unproven manager in the English game. Leaving Anderlecht behind to pursue this new opportunity in Lancashire, it’ll be a fascinating one to watch unfold.
Burnley, however, haven’t named Kompany their brand new manager for name alone – the four time Premier League winner succeeding in his native Belgium for Anderlecht as boss, steering the ship in a turbulent time for the Belgian powerhouse. Transitioning from his playing days – Kompany initially signing for Anderlecht as a player-manager – it was when the former Manchester City defender finally hung up his boots that success started to blossom.
Finishing eighth in his first season at the club, his two full seasons as permanent manager after that lowly Jupiler Pro League campaign saw Anderlecht finish third two seasons on the bounce – finishing this season behind the likes of Club Brugge and surprise side Union Saint-Gilloise. He was a steady figure amidst turbulence, having to pick up the pieces with young stars such as Jeremy Doku departing for France.
Yet, Anderlecht won plaudits for favouring young talent throughout Kompany’s managerial stay at Lotto Park – his reputation too allowed for Anderlecht to loan exceptional young talent in, the Belgian flexing his connections with Lucas Nmecha starring in a season long loan. Further, Joshua Zirkzee has managed to score 16 goals this campaign loaned in from Bayern Munich – key players joining the club to enhance their football education, clubs such as Bayern Munich entrusting Vincent Kompany to get the best out of their wonder-kids.
With his reputation as a manager on the rise, Vincent Kompany has gambled by leaving Anderlecht behind in pursuit of furthering his fleeting managerial career back in England. It’s one thing being able to slowly improve a club over a few seasons, Burnley will hope immediate success can come their way as a result of his appointment. The hustle and bustle of the Championship will demand a lot more from Kompany as a young coach trying to cut his teeth, it’s an admirable move for the 36 year old – time will tell if it was a foolish one so early into his managerial career.
This appointment is also an almighty shift away from what Burnley is known for, dogged football often spearheaded by an no-nonsense English coach – Sean Dyche excelling in that role for a number of years prior to this season, no need to change for so long. This new appointment feels like the powers that be at Turf Moor want a culture change at the football club, Vincent Kompany the new face for a new era. Burnley could’ve gone down the conventional route, but instead, they’ve decided to be brave.
Even still, it’s a mammoth job on his hands with the current state of affairs at Turf Moor. The gaping hole of Sean Dyche looked to be plugged somewhat by makeshift manager Mike Jackson, yet heroic wins and displays against the likes of Watford and Everton meant very little after Newcastle provided the final nail in the coffin at the end of May to relegate The Clarets. Moreover, a number of key players will be moved on – James Tarkowski expected to sign for Everton imminently, club stalwart Ben Mee looks set to be off too, the fates of Maxwel Cornet and Wout Weghorst also hang in the balance. It could well be a new-look Clarets side that starts the first game of the Championship season, a clean slate at Turf Moor.
Vincent Kompany might have been preferred for this role over other managers for the predicament he managed to correct at Anderlecht, a club notably on the slide that needed fresh blood in the dug-out. His style of football over his two full seasons in Belgium will also begin to chip away at the route one approach Burnley have become known for, Vincent Kompany taking direct inspiration from his Manchester City days in how he wants his sides to operate on the ball. Kompany will demand a possession-high game from his Clarets players, playing out from the back in order to always stick to the ‘beautiful game’ – it’ll be a change of style that will be welcomed, as long as results do ultimately follow.
It will be a concern that Burnley will go into next season with a manager unproven at Championship level, the likes of promotion rivals Middlesbrough boasting Championship experience with Chris Wilder in the dug-out – a potential Burnley target before Kompany was sought after. It might take time for this experiment to work, restless Burnley fans will have to try and remain patient even if promotion straight back to the Premier League will be on everyone’s mind. Burnley will just hope that it doesn’t go the other way, Vincent Kompany a sacrificial lamb to the slaughter in a hyper competitive division with another manager needed to clean up the mess. Burnley do have to be commended for thinking outside the box with this appointment, wanting to go in a new direction after the fallout from Sean Dyche’s dismissal.
No doubt too, Vincent Kompany will flex his connections once more – players such as Liam Delap could well come through the door at Turf Moor, turning The Clarets into an entertaining side to watch. It’ll be a fascinating one to keep tabs on, and if the Belgian does succeed, he could well be joining the likes of Lampard and Gerrard in the Premier League as a manager very soon.