Soccer

Burnley belief still burning bright for Vincent Kompany

File photo dated 03-10-2023 of Sander Berge, who will face former club Sheffield United at a time when Vincent Kompany believes he is emerging as a real leader in his Burnley side. Issue date: Friday December 1, 2023.
File photo dated 03-10-2023 of Sander Berge, who will face former club Sheffield United at a time when Vincent Kompany believes he is emerging as a real leader in his Burnley side. Issue date: Friday December 1, 2023. File photo dated 03-10-2023 of Sander Berge, who will face former club Sheffield United at a time when Vincent Kompany believes he is emerging as a real leader in his Burnley side. Issue date: Friday December 1, 2023.

Vincent Kompany has suffered no loss of belief despite the bruising start to the season suffered by his Burnley side.

Last season Kompany’s men were breaking records as they charged to the Championship title with 101 points, with many – not least Pep Guardiola – talking up the former Manchester City captain’s chances of one day taking over at the Etihad Stadium.

But there has been a major reality check for Burnley since they got back to the top flight and history is now being made for the wrong reasons as they have lost seven straight home league games to start the campaign, and go into Saturday’s match against fellow strugglers Sheffield United rock bottom.

Kompany is paying no attention to the statistics, however, as he remains convinced his side are improving and remain on the right course.

“Statistics are just statistics,” he said. “To me, that’s not why I’m doing the job. If I wanted to take away the risk of this happening maybe I would make different choices in life. For me I’m in it for everything that goes with it.

“No matter what happens, when the story of this gets written however many years from now this is just part of it. I believe in myself a lot as well. That’s the truth of it.”

Although Kompany has stuck to his principles during Burnley’s struggles so far, he insisted that did not mean his side had not been adapting during the season, and pointed to recent improvements in the performances against Crystal Palace, Arsenal and West Ham – even if all three ended in defeat.

“I try and be consistent,” he said. “That’s also a method to get over moments like this, but I think if you look closely at what we’ve done from the start to now, adapting is definitely what we’ve done.

“I don’t know how you give up principles but you adapt. If you break down the positives, the performances we’ve definitely adapted but we knew we had to.

“You can’t come into the Premier League on the back of a season where you had 101 points and the first thing you do is say, ‘I don’t believe you can do it this way’. You have to stress test it first and then adapt.

“We’ve very clearly adapted and that’s given us the narrative of the last three or four games.”

Burnley caught the eye in the Championship with possession-based attacking football, but trying to play like that in the Premier League was always going to be a very difficult challenge.

While Burnley have had to change, Kompany said his own natural aggressive instincts remain.

“The possession reputation comes from the fact we were the better team in the Championship, but I try to make the point that I’m naturally aggressive,” Kompany said. “I was an aggressive player. It’s such an important thing for me.

“Last year we were so good in those moments. The difference is we were better than other teams, we had more of the ball. This season, whether we have the ball or not is not always decided by us.

“The point I’m trying to make is when you don’t have the ball, I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be like the West Ham game or the Palace game was good as well or Arsenal where we were done by two set plays.

“It’s what wasn’t there at the start of the season but it’s something we always had and hopefully we’ve recovered it now.”