There’s no doubt that eyebrows were raised when relegated Burnley appointed former Manchester City captain and Belgian international Vincent Kompany as their new manager, especially as the club prepared for life in the Championship after six consecutive seasons in the top flight.
After all, Kompany has no managerial experience outside of Belgium, while his playing style and philosophy appears to be at odds with that of former manager Sean Dyche.
However, there are promising signs and genuine optimism following some excellent recruitment during the summer. So, how will Kompany fare in Lancashire and can he help the Clarets return to the EPL at the first time of asking?
Evolution, Not Revolution, at Turf Moor
Kompany is unlikely to change too much too quickly at Turf Moor, despite an exodus that has seen eight first team members depart the club.
These include first team stars such as Nick Pope, James Tarkowski and Ben Mee, while Dale Stephens, Erik Peters, Phil Bardsley, Aaron Lennon and Wout Weghorst (on loan) have also left the club this summer.
Despite this, Kompany has been proactive in the transfer market, using this exodus to help introduce some youth to the playing squad and lower an average age that was the highest in the EPL last season.
To this end, 22-year-old forward Scott Twine has been signed for £4 million from the MK Dons, with the League One Player of the Year having scored 20 goals in 45 league matches last season and showcased his ability to play all across the front line.
Centre half Luke McNally (22) has also joined from Oxford United for £2 million, while Kompany has used his connections at Manchester City to land the youthful duo CJ Egan Riley (19) and Taylor Harwood-Bellis (20).
Defender Riley has agreed a permanent deal worth up to £1 million, while England Under-21 skipper Harwood-Bellis has joined on a season-long loan.
We’ve also seen Belgian midfielder Samuel Bastien (aged 25) join the club from Standard Liege, as Kompany looks to use his knowledge of the Jupiler Pro League to his advantage and access some competitively priced talent.
How Will Kompany Play at Burnley?
There’s no doubt that recruitment is crucial as Kompany looks to evolve Burnley’s playing style, with the Belgian preferring a possession-based game and placing an emphasis on smooth, high-tempo passing in the midfield.
He’s also a fan of fielding technical players in the final third, which is probably why Twine has been introduced to a typically strong and bullish forward line.
Kompany usually fields a 4-3-3 system, but it’s interesting to note that he adopted a 4-4-2 for much of last season. He may well use this formation initially at Turf Moor, deploying Twine as one of two centre forwards with a licence to roam throughout the final third.
This would create a smoother transition for Burnley, who have played a relatively rigid 4-4-2 for much of the last six years under the stewardship of Dyche.
Ultimately, things are looking increasingly bright for the Clarets as Kompany’s reign begins, making odds of 14/1 for them to win the Championship seem increasingly competitive. So, you could bet with Cyberbet that Burnley will win the title next season, or check out the odds on them achieving a play-off place.
Regardless, it will be an interesting season at Turf Moor, as the Clarets look to adapt to life outside of the top flight.