IAN LADYMAN: Kompany should NOT be first PL boss sacked this season
IAN LADYMAN: It’s sacking season but not a single boss has gone (yet)… and Vincent Kompany should NOT be the first. Burnley would struggle to find a more qualified man to bring them back up if they are relegated
- Burnley are bottom of the Premier League table with four points from 13 games
- There is, however, logic to sticking with Vincent Kompany, even if they go down
- Rock bottom of the league… why is nobody talking about the sack for Vincent Kompany? It’s All Kicking Off
Even after 30 years of the Premier League there are some things that surprise us. It’s almost Christmas in 2023 and we haven’t had a sacking yet. This time last year we had already witnessed five.
November is historically the most testing month for worrisome chairmen. The third and final international break comes and goes and panic sets in. This season, not so much.
At Sheffield United they have been worried for a while. Indeed changing his manager has been in the mind of owner Abdullah bin Musaid Al Saud for weeks. But sources tell me the Prince – keen to sell the club as a Premier League entity – remains mired fast in a world of indecision.
Suffice to say there is little discernible method at Bramall Lane regarding the future of manager Paul Heckingbottom, merely a muddle.
At Burnley, however, there seems to be a little more steadfastness in terms of the view of Vincent Kompany. Burnley face Sheffield United at Turf Moor on Saturday, a stadium where the Clarets have lost all seven of their league games so far.
Vincent Kompany’s Burnley side are rock bottom of the Premier League table with four points
Burnley were best in class in the Championship last season but have struggled in the top flight
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If Burnley were to lose again then it would be pertinent to ask just if and when Kompany’s team is going to click into gear the way he keeps saying they will.
Burnley currently have four points from 13 games. That is an astonishingly low total for last year’s Championship champions. It is also some feat to be bottom of a league that has Sheffield United and Luton in it and also contains one team – Everton – that has just been deducted 10 points.
By usual standards of Premier League thinking, Kompany would have been halfway out of the door by now. But the truth is that there is a compelling case for keeping the Belgian no matter what happens.
Burnley and their new American owners have invested time and faith in their young manager.
Kompany took an axe to the Sean Dyche model after inheriting his relegated team in summer 2022 and proved it is possible to play attractive football on the way out of the second tier.
Kompany’s style and philosophy now runs through the whole football club and during the summer the overhaul of players continued with that model in mind.
The Burnley team that lost at home to Manchester City on the opening day of the season had new players strewn throughout it. Burnley played their football that night and got beaten. Ever since that Friday night, the pattern has remained.
Kompany recruited a lot of young players and there is a long term vision at play at Turf Moor
It is unusual in our game to think long-term but maybe Burnley are on to something. This week I spoke to one former Premier League manager with experience of the Championship and the conversation crystallised a thought in my mind.
‘Every team that gets relegated goes down knowing it is guaranteed a huge lump of cash [about £45m] in terms of the parachute payment,’ he said.
‘The advantage that gives a club is huge. Their squad is already likely to be better than most of those in the Championship anyway. Add to that the fact they will have more money and it’s obvious why so many clubs come straight back.
‘It doesn’t always make sense to sack the manager just because you are terrified of going down.’
Analysis of the last 10 years shows that of the 30 teams relegated from the Premier League, 10 have come straight back. Of the three that went down last May, Leicester are currently top, Leeds are third and Southampton are fourth.
So set in the context of these decent odds, relegation for a club like Burnley need not necessarily be viewed as the catastrophe it is so often portrayed.
The regular course of action is for clubs to panic and change their manager – sometimes more than once – in a desperate bid to stay up. Survive first and think about the consequences later. Hence a club like Leeds ends last season with a manager like Sam Allardyce trying to get a tune out of a squad of players assembled for a completely different coach, the American coach Jesse Marsch. When looked at like that, it makes no sense.
If Burnley were to go down this season with a team drilled, educated and driven by Kompany then who would really be better qualified to bring them back up again?
There would be no better qualified manager than Kompany to take them up if they go down
It is not always this simple. Players can become disenchanted with a manager. They can stop listening or, even worse, they can revolt.
Equally a fanbase can turn. When these things happen, it is simply no longer possible for a manager to stick around.
Quite feasibly this could happen at Burnley. Some things are simply out of a manager’s or a club’s control.
But watching Burnley play against West Ham last weekend we saw a young team playing rather well on the whole and then stumbling in the final moments to lose 2-1. In 19-year-old American forward Luca Koleosho they had the game’s most exciting player.
Nine straight defeats can make all this common sense and strategy sound rather fanciful. Defeats are defeats. But there is one thing worse than being relegated and that’s being relegated with the wrong bloke in charge.
The clubs who tend to get stuck in the Championship tend to be the ones who have bet the farm on staying up. As grim as the league table may look for them, Burnley and Vincent Kompany don’t feel as though they are in that category.
ENDLESS LAW CHANGES COMPLICATE SIMPLE GAME
Late goals on a midweek night are every football writer’s nightmare so I had my head down in Paris just after 11pm on Tuesday trying to turn a match report about a heroic Newcastle victory into a hard-luck story.
Back in west London, however, I am told colleagues in the office were engaged in furious debate about whether Tino Livramento should have been penalised for handball or not against PSG.
The handball decision given against Tino Livramento (right) shows laws have confused game
In the end the argument dissolved into laughter. All the gesticulating had got everyone precisely nowhere and I am sure it will have been the same in living rooms and pubs everywhere.
Because the truth is nobody knows anymore. A simple game has been complicated by endless changes to the laws.
We can talk all we like about standards of officiating and the merits of VAR. But the greatest problem underpinning all of this revolves around the laws of the game. Many of them – particularly the one concerning handball – have gone beyond a joke
WHAT WOULD EL TEL HAVE THOUGHT?
Early in the Brentford-Arsenal game on Saturday the visiting central defender Gabriel took a goal-kick on the corner of his own six-yard box and passed it a couple of yards backwards to his own goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale who was standing almost on his own goal-line. Ramsdale immediately lost the ball and Brentford almost scored.
We can only presume this a tactic dreamed up on the training ground and Ramsdale can therefore be absolved of blame.
But it really does come to something when a coach would prefer his goalkeeper to have the ball at his feet than one of his outfield players. I wonder what Terry Venables would have made of it.
Aaron Ramsdale was lucky to escape a hair-raising moment playing from the back at Brentford
GUNG-HO SPURS RUN RISK AT CITY
The attacking creed of Ange Postecoglou is now well-known and Tottenham and the Premier League are all the better for it.
Yet Tottenham head to Manchester City this weekend down on numbers and on the back of three defeats.
Spurs were unlucky to lose at home to Aston Villa on Sunday. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.
But this weekend it’s not Villa, it’s City, and Tottenham are away. With so many players injured, Postecoglou’s team could get their trousers pulled down if they go toe to toe in Manchester.
When I met him for an interview ten days ago, Postecoglou said that if he was asked to send out a team to get a draw he could ‘probably do it’. Now may well be the time to try.
Tottenham need to be careful of having their pants pulled down by free-scoring Man City
IT’S ALL KICKING OFF!
It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.
It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify
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