Fortunately, others are not quite so discreet. Those voices said Tottenham got in touch after it fired Antonio Conte. Chelsea, a team seemingly permanently on the hunt for a new manager, approached him, too. Leeds considered him as a replacement when it fired Jesse Marsch. He said no to them all.
This summer would, doubtless, have brought more offers, not just because of the fact that Kompany led Burnley to promotion, but the manner of it. In the space of 10 months, he has completely refashioned the club’s style, taking a team that had for years been defined by a gruff, battle-hardened, pared-back style and filling it with youth, and flair, and élan.
“I built on the values that defined Burnley,” Kompany said. “Culture is different to style. What was Burnley before? Hard-working, brave, tough. I say to my players that while we might not be the biggest team any more, we can still be the toughest, the smartest, the bravest. There is a grit to our game. That hasn’t changed. We couldn’t have the flair players that we do if they did not understand what it is to be a Burnley player.”
He may not see it quite as the transformation it appears to be, but it is an impressive body of work nonetheless. Rather than parlay that into a lucrative offer elsewhere — the Spurs job is still available, and Chelsea’s will doubtless come up again in a few weeks — Kompany elected, just before the end of the season, to sign a new five-year contract with Burnley.
It was an unorthodox, vaguely heretical decision. Elite soccer is a shark, forever moving forward. Managers, like players, are conditioned to believe that they have to grasp bigger, better things the very instant they appear.