How sweet this Championship season has been for Burnley. The misery of relegation from the Premier League last summer has been put to bed, and now the Clarets can look forward to a new life in the top flight, with Vincent Kompany having guided them to a commanding promotion, which will surely culminate in the Championship title.
It was difficult to know what to expect when Kompany took the reins at the start of the season. Sean Dyche had been the man in charge for so long, that it was hard for Burnley fans to know what this team would look like under a new leader. But the former Manchester City captain has proven himself in one of the most competitive leagues in Europe, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the challenge of managing in the Premier League, where he so excelled as a player.
Burnley’s success is down to Kompany making them a very difficult team to beat, and that has contributed greatly to their favourite status among those betting on football. They have only lost twice in the league all season, and are unbeaten in the Championship since early November. That is a remarkable feat, and if they can bring that kind of resilience to the top flight they’ll be well-placed to enjoy another long stay in the Premier League.
Indeed, at the time of writing there is still an opportunity for Burnley to break the record Championship points total, and Kompany is not willing to rest on his laurels as long as there are records to be broken and achievements to be gained.
“To say that this could have happened with five games to go, I don’t think anyone would have hoped for it,” he said after the win against Sheffield United that secured promotion. “It’s for us to set the bar even higher and see if there’s something beyond winning the trophy. Can we keep that consistency for the next six games?
“I have two things in my mind – one is to make sure we allow the group to be part of the next six games. That’s how we got here, all the players have played a huge part this season.”
Compared to other Championship winners in the past, Burnley haven’t exactly blasted their opposition out of the water. There have been 12 draws in total so far, and only 78 goals scored, which is a relatively low figure for Championship leaders boasting such a high points total. Instead, the success of this team has been down to their ability to get the job done in the biggest matches and grind out draws when defeat has looked likely.
It’s clear that the Burnley players have bought into Kompany’s ideas, and that they’ve been inspired by having a coach who achieved so much in his career as a player. Much of the Burnley squad is the same as the one that got relegated from the Premier League, and credit is due to Kompany for getting everyone on the same page and knuckling down to regain their top-flight status.
Burnley can now enjoy the rest of the season, knowing their place in the upper echelons of English football is secure once more. Then, this summer, the hard work will really begin.