Pep Guardiola speaks hard truths ahead of Vincent Kompany reunion

Guardiola previews Man City's FA Cup clash with Burnley

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There will be short odds offered about the prospect of Vincent Kompany’s statue outside the Etihad Stadium getting draped in a Burnley scarf at some stage before kick off. And as the Clarets manager returns to a place which will forever remain deeply rooted in his heart, no image could better sum up a clash between past and present.

Kompany is happy to talk about both.

He slips easily into reminiscing about his best moments in a sky blue shirt during those 11 glorious seasons at the club between 2008-19. And he is more than happy to discuss how effortlessly his Burnley side are flying at the top of the Championship, nine points clear and just a few more steps away from an instant return to the Premier League.

What he is not happy to discuss is the future particularly when it includes as Pep Guardiola has said a return as manager of Manchester City which is “written in the stars”. Kompany’s superb start to English management with Burnley has inevitably prompted talk of a return – one day when Pep Guardiola finally leaves as he will.

Yet for Kompany the future is this evening’s FA Cup quarter-final clash with his former club and nothing more. Beating City, while throwing fuel on to the fire over a return, will at least be a tall task. But no one who knows Kompany is writing off such a fierce competitor.

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“There are mixed feelings obviously as the last time I was there in any competitive capacity was the famous Leicester game. But now I am coming as the opponent,” he said. “Hopefully we can show our best side. But being in the quarter-finals is an achievement.”

Kompany has been mildly irritated with talk linking him back to City all season and yesterday was no different with the Belgian insisting his job is about developing Burnley, end of story. It is perhaps Kompany’s proudest achievement that Burnley have been imbued with the same competitive spirit which marked his time at the Etihad where he won 10 trophies including four Premier League titles in 11 seasons.

“I don’t see why changing the badge would change my mentality and will to win. That is an aspect of my life that has always been there. Our problems today are winning Championship games and in that world we have done really well. But we have to try and get better.

“I got a massive recognition from the club (in the statue) for what I was not just as a player but a competitor but also a leader in moments. But now I am on the other side and that is the person I want to represent for Burnley every day of the week.”

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Guardiola will afford Kompany not only his best bottle of wine for after tonight’s game but also full respect for the football Burnley will bring to the Etihad tonight.

“We are going to play against a Premier League team,” said Guardiola. “Vinny won’t like to hear this because as a manager you always have to be cautious, and I would be the same. But we have to talk about them as a Premier League team, and when it’s the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, when anything can happen, you have to be careful.”

For his part Kompany was asked whether three years with Guardiola at City gives him inside knowledge he can utilise but he knocked that back.

“Look at the Championship teams in the past who have gone to the Etihad. You could give them the team and tactics and still have the toughest challenge they have ever encountered. My only goal is to do as well as we can.”

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