Kompany is tipped to manage Man City, but ex-players don’t always work out

Vincent Kompany will get his first taste of life in a dugout at the Etihad Stadium when he takes his champion side Burnley to face Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday (live on Sportzshala+, 13:45, US only.)

“Vinnie’s fate as City manager is decided by the stars,” Pep Guardiola said earlier this month after his side drew against Kompany in their last eight matches. “It will happen, I don’t know when, but it will happen.”

It was Guardiola’s bold statement for the 36-year-old, who only spent his fourth season as a manager after his first three were spent in Belgium with Anderlecht. But the city boss had good reason to believe that Kompany would someday be one of his successors.

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Kompany is the most successful captain in City’s history, winning four Premier League titles, four EFL Cups and two FA Cups in his 11 seasons at the club. In his first campaign as Burnley manager, he was just three wins away from promotion to the Premier League.

When he arrived at Turf Moor in the summer, Kompany, who graduated from Manchester Business School with an MBA in 2017, told Sportzshala he took over at a “very delicate and dangerous time” due to the club needing was to offload the players and reduce the cost of servicing a loan of 55 million pounds.

But despite the obvious pitfalls and risks to his reputation at Burnley, Kompany has changed the club and the team’s style of play. He overcame the odds of getting close to a promotion. Now Burnley go to City with the confidence they can shock the reigning Premier League champions. So when Guardiola speaks so highly of his former captain, it’s understandable why. Kompany is a rising star in management and Burnley will sooner or later face a struggle to keep him.

However, whether Kompany’s career will eventually lead back to the City depends not only on whether he maintains his upward trajectory, but also on whether he is strategic in his choice. One wrong move could ruin his hopes of running City forever. Football is full of managers who were “destined” for a certain club only to have their ambitions dashed by making the right choice at the wrong time.

Steven Gerrard blazed a clear path to work at Liverpool with such an impressive start as manager in Scotland with Rangers, but his move to Aston Villa in November 2021 proved to be more of a loophole than a stepping stone and he was sacked. less than a year at Villa Park. His prospects of one day replacing Jurgen Klopp at Anfield appear to have been dashed simply because he made a bad choice by leaving Rangers for Villa.

Patrick Vieira was also set to become a future city manager, having spent eight years with the City Football Group as a player, youth team coach, and then manager of New York City Football Club in MLS. But after an unfortunate 18-month spell at the helm of French club Nice, the former Arsenal captain was just sacked due to issues with Crystal Palace after a 12 league match streak without a win; the days of being offered the job of managing City or Arsenal seem to be long gone.

The list of former Manchester United players who have been identified as Sir Alex Ferguson’s clear successors at Old Trafford – among them Steve Bruce, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs – has become a similar tale of hopes shattered by the wrong choice and bad results.

Frank Lampard is perhaps the exception as he was appointed Chelsea manager in 2019 after only a year at Derby County. But had Chelsea not been under an international transfer ban and therefore not attractive to elite coaches, it is doubtful that Chelsea legend Lampard would have been offered the job at all.

Lampard, like Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2018, was given the opportunity to return to his former club because they were in trouble and needed a man from the past whose reputation as a player could revive and instill some kind of wellness factor. Perhaps this is the only way for Gerrard to be at Liverpool – Band-Aid instead of being at the top of his profession.

Mikel Arteta got the job at Arsenal in 2019 under similar circumstances, and the former Gunners midfielder took the opportunity to make it work, but he rarely does.

Now, Kompany is untainted by the failure that undermined the ambitions of some of his contemporaries, so his options for the future hold. He could prove Guardiola right by taking a job at City one day, but his accomplishments at Burnley won’t convince the club hierarchy that he’s the man to lead the Etihad. It will be his next move, and maybe his next, that will determine if he can manage City.

Being a club legend helps when it comes to management, but that’s not all, and the company still has a long way to go before it gets to Etihad. He will need to keep winning but also be astute in his choices along the way to avoid the setbacks that befell Gerrard, Vieira and all those former United players.

Beating City and knocking them out of the FA Cup this weekend won’t hurt his prospects for sure.


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