The appliance of science (and a lot of running!): Having won the Championship, Vincent Kompany details plans for Burnley’s Premier League return
- Burnley earned promotion to the Premier League with 101 Championship points
- The Clarets will continue with modern methods in their recruitment this summer
- Vincent Kompany says the lower half teams in top flight are now of better quality
This is the fourth time Burnley have won promotion to the Premier League since 2009 but things will be different under Vincent Kompany compared with previous incumbents Owen Coyle and Sean Dyche.
At the age of 37 and having learned from Pep Guardiola, Kompany is very much a 21st century manager.
Burnley, despite their small-town status, are going to reflect that, as Brighton and Brentford have already proved, modern methods give you a chance of competing well in the richest league in the world.
Recruitment strategy at Turf Moor has been given a makeover with Dyche’s long-serving UK senior scout and head of European recruitment Ian Butterworth among several redundancies, and head of technical scouting George Foster-Vigors calling the shots. He is young with a background in performance analysis. He was still at university when Dyche joined Burnley in 2012.
Having won the Championship title with 101 points and signed a new contract, Kompany has a clear picture of the type of players the club needs.
Burnley earned an instant return to the Premier League with 101 Championship points
Manager Vincent Kompany has outlined his plans in the transfer window this summer
Burnley’s top scorer Nathan Tella is due to return to parent club Southampton next season
The likes of Josh Brownhill, Josh Cullen and Morocco World Cup winger Anass Zaroury should cope with the Premier League but top scorer Nathan Tella is due to return to parent club Southampton and club legend Ashley Barnes has been allowed to leave.
Kompany is unashamed to use science to cast the net wide to find his next recruits — despite Burnley’s traditional Premier League policy of sticking to the tried and trusted.
‘We want players who can run, a lot. So the performance testing is important for us,’ he says. ‘We know we like players who are fit so the medical screening is important. Youth can cost you points but also creates value so you need to find the blend of talent and experience. That is what we did this year and it doesn’t change because we’re in a higher division.
‘I’m not someone desperate for change but it’s normal when a new manager and ownership group comes in. Recruitment starts with the profile of players you are looking for. Everything is available now on different software. It’s moving towards watching players on video, using analytics.
‘My role is what you’d expect of a manager, the recruitment team bring options based on the profile of players we have discussed.
‘When it’s above a certain price where we can’t make a mistake, we will also make sure to get as many eyes to watch the player [live], to convince us whether to do it.’
The door is also still open to Dutch striker Wout Weghorst, currently on loan at Manchester United. ‘The most important thing is for him to finish the season on a high but that’s a tough one for me to say obviously,’ jokes Kompany, aware that United’s last game is against City in the FA Cup final.
Kompany retired as a player in 2019 after captaining City to a domestic Treble. He thinks the Premier League has changed, even in the past four years.
‘It has definitely gone more athletic. The bottom half of the table also has a better level of coaching and understanding of tactics,’ he says. ‘Teams are better resourced with more money going into the Premier League. Even if you are at the bottom, you can buy a player from a top-six Bundesliga team. That means the levels have gone up again.
‘Every position on the pitch has become more athletic because the role of transition has increased so much. Teams can exploit in 10 seconds from the moment they recover the ball.’
Burnley will not repeat Nottingham Forest’s experiment of bringing in 30 players. ‘Calm’ is how Kompany describes the mood.
Kompany retired as a player in 2019 and he says the Premier League has changed a lot since
The door is also still open to Dutch striker and Manchester United loanee Wout Weghorst
Kompany heartened Brighton didn’t resort to hoof-and-run in their first seasons in the league
He will argue to prospective signings that a move to Burnley is no less risky than choosing more established Premier League clubs, citing this season’s league table with newbies Fulham and Bournemouth ahead of long-standing members Everton and Southampton.
‘Some players we speak to trying to convince them to come to Burnley express concern for “What if we get relegated?” he says.
‘My best answer is to look at the table and what has happened this year. There are clubs down there you would have signed for and thought “this is stable” but reality is everyone below the top eight is looking over their shoulder.
Burnley won praise for not only winning promotion at the first attempt but doing it in a pleasing manner, high intensity but also easy on the eye. Kompany thinks the tactics can work in the Premier League as well.
‘It’s important to coach what you know,’ he says. ‘You look at the data and it looks like it was all about possession, creating chances and goals scored. But we were also the highest pressing and most aggressive team in the Championship. But you look at the other and we have been highest pressing, had the most clean sheets and the best defensive record.’
He is heartened that Brighton didn’t resort to hoof-and-run when they were struggling in their first Premier League seasons, and are reaping the rewards now.
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