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Vincent Kompany at Burnley 2022/22 - tactical analysis tactics

Vincent Kompany: The Guardiola disciple looking to overhaul the direct playing style in East Lancashire – tactical analysis

After nearly three seasons in charge of his boyhood club, former Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany and Anderlecht decided to part ways, with the Belgian manager seeking a new challenge elsewhere. This new destination appears to be England, with Kompany being heavily linked to take over in the hot seat at Burnley, tasked with the challenge of returning the East Lancashire side back to the Premier League.

If Kompany is appointed at Burnley, the tactical and stylistic changes will be massive. Compared to the way Burnley played and were set up under Sean Dyche for nearly ten seasons, Kompany’s style of play is a complete 180-degree difference. This tactical analysis piece will take an in-depth look and examine Kompany’s philosophy and style of play from his time at Anderlecht; which should give Burnley fans a look at what they should expect from their side next season and beyond.

Build-up play 

When watching Vincent Kompany’s Anderlecht side during the build-up phases of play, it is hard not to think of Pep Guardiola’s influence. The same fundamental principles present in Guardiola are evident in Kompany as well; with Kompany looking for his side to hold possession and use a slower methodical build-up to break opponents’ defences down. This is present in the possession and passing numbers this season for Anderlecht as well, with the Brussels based side holding the third-highest average possession in the league this season with 55.4%. Anderlecht also completed more passes than any other side in the Belgian Pro League last season, with over 21,000 completed over the course of the season. If we compare this to Burnley’s possession number last season, it is night and day. Burnley held the lowest average possession of any side in the Premier League last season, with 39.3%. Also at the bottom of the Premier League was the number of completed passes for Burnley this season, only 11,769

This section will take an in-depth look at the build-up style of Kompany, which is a much different style to what Burnley fans have been used to the past decade at Turf Moor. 

Vincent Kompany at Burnley 2022/22 - tactical analysis tactics

Under Kompany, Anderlecht normally set up in a 4-4-2 formation, but this turned into a back three during phases of build-up play. Notice how during this build-up phase against Antwerp, the formation has transitioned into a 3-3-4, with the two fullbacks, Murillo and Gomez, pushing higher up into wider midfield positions.

The role of Josh Cullen is key. Cullen will normally drop into defence during these phases of build-up play, becoming the right centre-back in this makeshift back three. The four forwards like to interchange positions and constantly utilise attacking rotations in order to keep the opposition’s defensive line off balance, with runs in behind from the attacking players being a common theme. Most times these are just decoy runs, which opens up the space for Anderlecht to continue their slower, methodical passing sequences.

This is illustrated by the passing rate that Anderlecht possessed this season in the Belgian Pro League. Anderlecht averaged 15.4 passes per sequence of possession last season in the league, which was the highest. Kompany is, however, flexible in his approach to build-up phases of play, with a faster, more route one approach also utilised at times to quickly break through opposition defences.

Vincent Kompany at Burnley 2022/22 - tactical analysis tactics

The image above once again shows another example of the build-up style that Kompany deployed at Anderlecht. This displays the more advanced positions that the two fullbacks tend to occupy during these phases; with both Murillo and Gomez staying wide and hugging the touchlines to keep the width. With the fullbacks staying high and wide, it allows the wide attackers of Anderlecht to come inside, which suits their skill sets and allows them to excel in more narrow positions. Cullen is again tasked with being the right centre-back as the shape transitions to a back three, with the advanced attacking players utilising attacking rotations and plenty of off the ball movement to make space and become forward passing options. 

Vincent Kompany at Burnley 2022/22 - tactical analysis tactics

We mentioned earlier about how Kompany likes plenty of movement from his attacking players during build-up sequences, and the above shows an example of this. The typical build-up formation is present, with Cullen playing the ball to the left centre-back Wesley Hoedt. Further forward, it is a 2v1, with the Union Saint-Gilloise wingback tasked with keeping a close eye on both Sergio Gomez and Francis Amuzu. As a result, both Amuzu and Gomez make their movements at the same time, with Amuzu dropping into midfield and Gomez making a run in behind. The defender gets caught in two minds and stays at home, which allows the easy pass from Hoedt to Amuzu to continue the forward momentum of Anderlecht and to continue to slowly build up the play in a more advanced position.

Though the option is always present for Anderlecht to play the ball more direct during the build-up phase, Kompany prefers a more passive approach to building up play. That is the main reason why Anderlecht completed the most passes in the Belgian Pro League this season, as well as had the highest passing rate and held the third-most possession.

This is essentially the complete opposite to what Sean Dyche implemented during his almost ten seasons in charge at Burnley, with the club known as a low possession, route one side in build-up during his time in East Lancashire. This will be completely flipped on its head with the appointment of Kompany.

Pressing 

When it comes to the style of pressing that Vincent Kompany has utilised during his time in Belgium with Anderlecht, it could best be described as strategic. Anderlecht are by no means a pressing machine in Belgian football. Their PPDA of 10.07 ranks ninth in the league, but they are not a side either that will sit back in a defensive shell looking for opponents to make mistakes.

Interestingly, the PPDA of Burnley this season was 12.09, a slight increase on Anderlecht’s number. This section will take a more in-depth look at the pressing style of Anderlecht under Kompany, and what Burnley fans should expect from next season.

Vincent Kompany at Burnley 2022/22 - tactical analysis tactics

The image above shows an example of the type of pressing system that Vincent Kompany has implemented during his time at Anderlecht. The forward is putting pressure on the player in possession, while the two closest passing options are being closed down as well, anticipating the possibility of a pass. This forces the player in possession to play the ball long, which Anderlecht’s backline have covered perfectly with them staying in shape.

What this demonstrates is that Kompany does not want his side to be an aggressive pressing unit which risks the possibility of being caught out of position if the press is broken. Instead, his pressing system is more pragmatic, pressing from the front and forcing the opposition to play long, which allows his defenders to win first or second balls to neutralise the opposition attack.  

Vincent Kompany at Burnley 2022/22 - tactical analysis tactics

The image above shows another pressing sequence from Anderlecht this season, this time against USG. Anticipating the pass played by the defender, Delcroix moves to engage the player before the ball reaches him. Verschaeren also decides to press the recipient of the pass, leaving a vacant space in midfield. Zirkzee moves from his forward position to press the defender who played the initial pass, which prevents the ball from being played back to him. Cullen is able to drop into the vacant space to mark the next passing option, with possession being turned over by USG as a result.

Under Kompany this season, Anderlecht looked to not press aggressively in the opponent’s defensive third. Rather, the midfield line was used as a sort of trigger for when to press. This meant that the side were able to keep their defensive shape and initiate the press when the ball reached near the midfield line.

Vincent Kompany at Burnley 2022/22 - tactical analysis tactics

The image above shows another example of this pressing system that Vincent Kompany implemented while in charge of Anderlecht. Club Brugge are attempting to build out from the back, with the ball played to the wide centre-back. In this man-marking pressing system, every player has their marker, with the press getting more intense as the ball is played out from defence.

The ball is played out wide to the wing-back, with Sergio Gomez anticipating this pass and pressing the recipient. As a result, the wing-back plays the ball into a central area, where the intended target is closed down, with Anderlecht winning back possession in the middle third as a result.

Under Vincent Kompany, Anderlecht are not what would be described as a pressing machine. Kompany opts for a more passive approach to pressing, waiting until there are certain triggers instead of just consistently utilising a high press. Burnley fans should be expecting to see more pressing like this next season and onwards.

Attacking style of play 

Another noticeable difference next season for Burnley will be the attacking style of play under Kompany as opposed to under Dyche. Whereas under Dyche, Burnley were very much a counter-attacking side, holding little to no possession throughout the course of a match, under Kompany it will be completely different.

Through balls are something that Anderlecht have utilised frequently under Kompany, with Anderlecht playing the most amount of through balls last season in the league. They use these pass types to break opposition lines and quickly reach the attacking third, and this section will look more in-depth at the impact these through balls have on Kompany’s attacking style of play. 

Vincent Kompany at Burnley 2022/22 - tactical analysis tactics

The image above shows an example of this emphasis on through balls to quickly reach the attacking third and break opposition lines. Wesley Hoedt was one of the best centre-backs in the Belgian Pro League this season, especially with his distribution.

In this phase of play against Club Brugge, instead of passing the ball towards the near touchline to the fullback, Hoedt opts to instead attempt a line breaking through ball. Kouamé makes an in to out run behind the Club Brugge wingback. Hoedt plays the pass to Kouamé, instantly breaking the first two lines of the Club Brugge defence. Unfortunately, the Brugge defender reaches the ball first, clearing it out of danger, but this attacking style is able to quickly advance the play for Anderlecht when the shorter, more methodical passing options are not in good spaces. Also, Anderlecht were able to recycle possession and start to build their attack again. 

Vincent Kompany at Burnley 2022/22 - tactical analysis tactics

This example above is essentially the same attacking phase as the first example. After regaining possession and utilising a more methodical build-up pattern, a through ball is once again the reason for a goal-scoring chance to develop. Amuzu is playing high and wide with the fullback positioned deeper. With the Club Brugge defence playing narrow, this allows Cullen to play a through ball into the path of Amuzu. He then drives towards the byline before sending a dangerous cross into the box. Even though the eventual ball is cleared by a Brugge defender, this type of incisive passing from an Anderlecht player is again able to create a chance in the attacking third.

Vincent Kompany at Burnley 2022/22 - tactical analysis tactics

This next example is able to demonstrate the slow methodical build-up that leads to a through ball from Anderlecht. After passing the ball around the backline for a bit, they are finally able to drag the Antwerp defender out of position to come and press Murillo. This opens up the space behind the Antwerp defence, which Murillo is able to exploit with an over the top through ball towards Cullen who makes a run into that vacant space. Unfortunately, Murillo’s through ball is too heavy and is cleared away by the Antwerp centre-back.  

This section took a look at one of the more common attacking principles that has been utilised by Vincent Kompany during his time as Anderlecht’s head coach. It will be a new look for Burnley next season with a more possession-based system, but the quick attacking movement will be something that the Burnley fans are more used to.

Conclusion 

This tactics and analysis piece took a look at some key concepts that Vincent Kompany implemented during his time in Belgium with Anderlecht. A mutual separation between Kompany and Anderlecht was probably the right choice for both parties, and a move to England is the logical next step in Kompany’s managerial career. Burnley is definitely an interesting prospect for the former Manchester City defender, and it will be a tough task trying to lead the Clarets back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. The ultimate goal for Kompany will be to eventually manage his beloved Manchester City at some point in the future, similar to Steven Gerrard and Liverpool. However, Burnley is a great introduction to English football management for the former Belgian international defender, and it will be interesting to see how his time in East Lancashire goes.