Guardiola unsurprised by 'exceptional' Burnley style under Kompany

By Sports Desk March 17, 2023

Pep Guardiola has not been surprised by the "exceptional" style instilled by Vincent Kompany at Burnley, as the Clarets boss prepares to return to Manchester City for an FA Cup quarter-final.

Kompany captained City to four Premier League titles as a player, the latter two coming in back-to-back campaigns under Guardiola in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The former defender has enjoyed a spectacular first season as a coach in England, leading Burnley to a 13-point lead at the Championship summit and to the brink of an immediate Premier League return. 

Burnley lead their second-tier rivals for goals (74), average possession share (64.29 per cent) and passes in the opposition half (8,127) this season, with Kompany moving away from the direct approach associated with their latest spell in the top flight.

Kompany's side are unbeaten in 18 games since December's EFL Cup exit at Manchester United, and Guardiola is especially impressed by the way he has altered Burnley's style. 

"What I saw… I'm not really surprised at all by what they've done so far in the Championship, being so close to being a Premier League team for next year," Guardiola said on Friday.

"Seeing more closely what they do, I understand completely why they are there. They will be a really, really tough opponent, because they do incredible things on the pitch.

"A manager always needs time, but the big success they had as a team is to compete as soon as possible. They have a good team and the way they play is exceptional." 

Reflecting on his time working with Kompany at the Etihad Stadium, Guardiola revealed how the Belgian helped him navigate a difficult first Premier League campaign in 2016-17.

"He's one of the biggest legends I had, and personally, it was a pity that he was injured for a lot of the time we were together," Guardiola said of Kompany. 

"The important thing was how he helped me from day one. I arrived here from another country, I didn't know the Premier League, and his contribution in the locker room in the bad moments, how he helped us to take a step forward… he was an exceptional captain, a top human being.

"I'm a little bit concerned because when you start to play a game and on the touchline there's a player that you had, you realise how old you are becoming!"

After the FA Cup's last-eight draw took place earlier this month, Guardiola claimed Kompany was destined to coach City later in his career, a view he reiterated on Friday.

"Maybe he doesn't agree with me, but after seeing his teams, I'm more than convinced he's going to come back," Guardiola said. "When? I don't know, but it's going to happen."

City have reached the FA Cup semi-finals in five of their six previous seasons under Guardiola, only falling short in 2017-18. If they progress on Saturday, they will become just the third team to reach the last four in five consecutive campaigns, after Manchester United (1961-62 to 1965-66) and Arsenal (2000-01-2004-05).

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