How equipped are Kompany

Burnley celebrate
Burnley won the Championship last season, notching 101 points

Burnley are back in the big time with every intention to make this a long-term stay.

The Clarets bounced back from Premier League relegation in style, earning promotion at the first attempt by sprinting to last season’s Championship title with 101 points.

Manager Vincent Kompany has been the driving force behind the club’s success on the pitch, but the Lancashire side are undergoing an off-field transformation too.

BBC Sport was given behind-the-scenes access to explore how well equipped Burnley are for their top-flight return.

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Value of ‘hard work and learning’

The Barnfield training ground is abuzz with activity as Burnley’s pre-season preparations are in full swing.

Players have been out on the grass on a dreary day, with some heading into the gym afterwards and another group of four led by full-back Charlie Taylor testing their skills on the Teqball table.

Such has been the methodical approach, a handful of players returned to training on 5 June for light sessions and gym work – so early the 2022-23 season was yet to be completed, with the Champions League final taking place later that week.

Players, staff and supporters endured the ignominy of relegation from the Premier League in the 2021-22 season, when Burnley finished 18th to end their six-year top-flight stay.

Popular manager Sean Dyche was sacked with eight games remaining and caretaker Mike Jackson could not salvage the situation.

“Personally, that relegation will still be there for me,” first-team coach Jackson tells BBC Sport. “They don’t go away, you wish you could just wipe them.

“But after all the work that was put in last season by everyone at the club, the excitement and opportunity to be part of the Premier League is something to look forward to.”

The appointment of former Belgium defender and Manchester City captain Kompany has been highlighted as a turning point, galvanising the club and putting them on the path to recover with a highly impressive promotion by achieving a century of points.

BBC Radio Lancashire’s sports editor Andy Bayes says Burnley won the Championship with “style and swagger, with goals aplenty and entertainment pretty much guaranteed”.

“The change in style under Vincent Kompany has been obvious from day one,” he added. “Fast-flowing football and playing out from the back have been the staple diet.”

Vincent Kompany celebrates promotion after being Middlesbrough
Vincent Kompany earned promotion at the first attempt with Burnley

Having spent 11 years at City, where he won 10 major trophies – including four Premier League titles – Kompany’s winning mentality has been infectious around the club.

Jackson says: “Vinny came in with his personality and attention to what he wants, and every club needs a path to follow. We built in stages throughout last season and the improvement from beginning to end was pleasing to see.

“Nobody really knows if we are better equipped, but one of Vinny’s key strengths is his commitment to the development of players and staff. If you go along them lines then you are improving the people and that hopefully improves performances.

“When you are with a manager, they have to have a real belief in what they are doing. The players go out and play and deserved credit for that, but they embraced it and submerged themselves into the work involved.

“When you work with him every day, you see the values about hard work and learning.”

Keeping Kompany ‘like trying to marry best looking girl in town’

‘We have to break the mould’

As fate would have it, Burnley host champions City in the Premier League’s opening game of the season on 11 August.

“It is a like a dream to be playing for a season in the Premier League,” Morocco international midfielder Anass Zaroury tells BBC Sport.

“I always wanted to be at the highest level, but it will be tough, as was the Championship. We belong here and now it is up to us to give everything and work hard.”

Swiss forward Zeki Amdouni has arrived from Basel and Irish defender Dara O’Shea has been brought in from West Brom, beefing up Kompany’s options.

The team will play all their pre-season friendlies away from home, with their traditional but dated Turf Moor ground undergoing a programme of modernisation.

Indeed, significant changes are being made off the pitch, including investment in different departments and a push to attract more fans from the town’s South Asian community.

“We are undergoing a major transformation around all aspects of the club both on and off the pitch,” Burnley’s strategy director Hamish Wilson tells BBC Sport.

“The new ownership came in December 2020 and have ambitions to redefine what a football club is and what it means to fans. We want to grow our brand, break into new markets and make Burnley more of a global name.

“We are doing some cool and innovative things on social media, especially with the transfer revealsexternal-link, and the key for us is to do things differently and break the mould.

“Burnley itself is a diverse area and one of the things we want to do is harness that to make sure our fanbase is as diverse as it should be and representative of the area.

“We recognise as a club the most important aspect is success on the pitch and that is where we have focused a lot of our investment and energy.”

Asked if a 17th-placed finish would be classed as success at the end of the season, Wilson said: “It depends who you speak to.

“If you talk to Vinny then he will say ‘absolutely not’, he has a winner’s mentality, but for us in our long-term ambition, one of the key goals is to stay in the Premier League.”

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