Kompany’s bounce back Burnley return to Premier League at first attempt

April 11 – Burnley are back in the big time. With seven matches to spare, the Clarets clinched promotion to the Premier League with a 2-1 victory against Middlesbrough, the culmination of Vincent Kompany’s one-season transformation of the club. 

The Belgian guided Burnley back to the top flight after dominating the entire season, moving 19 points clear of third-placed Luton to ensure automatic promotion.

“It’s Easter and there are seven games to go and we’re already celebrating,” said Kompany. “We didn’t expect it. We wanted to experience this at some point but quicker is better sometimes as well.”

“There’s a couple of logical rules we all know, if you don’t have squad cohesion at the beginning then it takes time. There are 46 games so you have the stress of games that help you improve quicker. It wasn’t easy. They’re celebrating like kids and that’s fun to see.”

It was a gamble for Burnley to trust Kompany whose managerial experience was limited to Anderlecht, his boyhood club.

At the time, he struggled in the Belgian capital, but at Turf Moor Kompany, 36, followed his own plan, transforming the profile of the club from predominantly British to international. Senior players Nick Pope, Nathan Collins, Dwight McNeill, Ben Mee and James Tarkowski departed and in came Josh Cullen from Anderlecht and winger Anass Zaroury from Charleroi as well as loanees Nathan Tella from Southampton and Chelsea full-back Ian Maatsen.

After a slow start, Burnley were altogether different from the Sean Dyche days, ditching long-ball tactics for a possession-based game. It resulted in a stellar campaign with just two defeats. They are now on an unbeaten run of 20 matches. No team has scored more goals and no teams has conceded less than Burnley in the Championship.

The promotion is all the more remarkable as Burnley’s future largely depended on it. The club have been in serious financial problems following the £65 million loan taken out by American owners ALK Capital at the time of their takeover in December 2020, a situation that was compounded once the riches of the Premier League disappeared.

On Monday Burnley celebrated their promotion with a 2-0 win against Sheffield United. They can clinch the title next weekend.

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