Vincent Kompany has witnessed many changes during his time at Manchester City, but even for him the first six weeks have been a whirlwind in the hot seat at Burnley.
Kompany’s Clarets will look very different from model Sean Dyche when they kick off the Championship season against Huddersfield on Friday night.
After relegation, nine players aged 29 or over have left, along with £20m 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 debutant at 26 and most are much younger, including City players CJ Egan-Riley, goalkeeper Aro Muric and Taylor Harwood-Bellis.
The bookies are skeptical of the big change in style and the staff will immediately bring Burnley back to the Premier League, but Kompany is adamant that, despite all the changes, he wants the club to remain the one no one likes to play.
“I remember those trips to Turf Moor,” he says with a smile. “It’s a question of the environment. Everyone is a little taller, the fans are a little closer to the pitch, walking in the corridors is a little less comfortable.
“Being at one of these clubs suits me. It’s something I want to protect and then add the ideas I have about the game.
“We can change the system and I’ve never heard anyone complain about a manager saying he wants to attack and score goals. But a culture is not a system and it is difficult to create.
The Belgian is Manchester City’s most successful captain, winning multiple trophies
He was a mainstay in City’s defense for several years before leaving the club in 2019.
“At Burnley there are good people all over the building and that’s something I want to keep. This is how people interact with each other and stay together in difficult times.
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 a backdrop of financial restrictions.
He is aware that interest in him is based on him being the most successful captain in City history. Indeed, he lifted the FA Cup at Wembley in 2019 in his last game in England.
At the same time, he feels his experience as a manager is just as relevant. At just 36, he has spent the past three years rebuilding Anderlecht with an inexperienced squad.
“I don’t mind if you don’t know what I achieved as a player, but it’s important what we did at Anderlecht,” he said.
Burnley were relegated last season, a year when longtime manager Sean Dyche was sacked
Kompany has focused on youth in its transfer window recruitment this summer
“We believed in young players. I realized they needed a path and if you commit to them, commit properly. Roll the bad days with them and keep them alive when they have good days.
“Give them time, they’ll end up giving you more than you can afford.”
Kompany’s bold mission statement explains why Burnley fans are more excited about this season than you would normally expect.
Instead of older war horses Chris Wood or Wout Weghorst up front, 22-year-old Scott Twine will lead the line after signing from MK Dons, where he scored 20 goals last season. Kompany’s knowledge of the Belgian market saw Cullen join him from Anderlecht.
His connection in midfield with Samuel Bastien, recruited from Standard de Liège, should allow one of the successes of last season, Josh Brownhill, to go further. Brownhill provided a hat-trick of assists in a 3-1 pre-season friendly win over Shrewsbury that was a glimpse of the future.
Scott Twine, 22, is set to lead Burnley’s attack after joining in the summer
There were raised eyebrows when Kompany agreed to come to Burnley, even though the North West is a place he knows well.
“My life has always been full of coincidences,” he says. “I met my wife, who is a Manchester City fan, when I was playing for Hamburg.
I didn’t know that I would later receive an offer from City. I would have been happy to move to Germany, Italy, anywhere. But of course we are sent back to the North West where she is from because of a football decision.
“I come to this project at the right time. We are in the environment of the Premier League, the best in the world. Coming back to England was always going to happen at some point.