Dave Thornley jumps out of his deckchair to offer his thoughts on what’s happened at Turf Moor since the Clarets got themselves relegated.
Since the conclusion to the 2021-2022 season confirmed Burnley’s relegation to the Championship, it has been a turbulent few weeks at Turf Moor; a time to bid a sorrowful farewell to a couple of players destined to become club legends, along with one or two whose departure will come as a relief. Added to which, the annual transfer rumour mill has begun to power up with Burnley’s most saleable assets being fed into its mechanism.
Nick Pope, Maxwel Cornet, Dwight McNeil, and Nathan Collins have all at various times been linked with moves to one team or another. Just as the doubt and uncertainty was reaching its peak, however, a ray of hope emerged in the formidable shape of Vincent Kompany, whose arrival as Burnley’s new manager brought a satisfactory conclusion to a set of negotiations more protracted than most peace treaties. Kompany is an impressive human being; physically imposing, articulate and intelligent he bears the demeanour of a serial winner. He will naturally and immediately command respect from his players; none of whom will be successful in a “show us your medals” challenge.
Furthermore, his name, reputation and contacts will be an advantage in attracting players to the club. Having played for so long under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, he will surely have absorbed some of the great coach’s techniques – just as his predecessor, Sean Dyche, had learned from his first manager, Brian Clough. Welcome to Burnley, Mr Kompany, your arrival has given fans a source of optimism (a rare and slightly uncomfortable emotion for many Clarets’ fans) and a reason to believe as we all embark on a turbulent and unremitting Championship season, the navigation of which will be testing for a manager with no hands-on experience of its unique challenges. The immediate challenge will be rebuilding an ageing and diminished squad within the constraints of a tight budget and the passage of time.
Surely, though, there must be something exhilarating about starting from scratch with a clean sheet of paper and the prospect of moulding the team into his team, reflecting his own principles, his own philosophy, and his own standards. He will have to do so without the services of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee; both of whom were out of contract and decided to seek their fortune elsewhere. They will be missed, they have been the cornerstone of the Clarets edifice for many seasons in the Premier League, both have given their all and can leave safe in the knowledge of a job well done. They deserve to remain as Premier League players and Tarkowski looks close to following Michael Keane in leaving Burnley for Everton.
Ben Mee’s destination is at present unclear, but I, for one, would not mind betting that he will return to Burnley in some capacity in the future so deeply is he engrained within the DNA of the club. In one of his early games, a televised away fixture at Reading, he prevented a goal by thrusting his head amidst flailing boots and in the path of a fiercely struck shot at point blank range – he’ll do us! That level of determination, that indominable spirit never once diminished throughout the eleven years as a Claret. Although his play developed more finesse as the years went on, it was that determination and that spirit which remained his defining characteristic.
He was a leader, a talisman, and what is more, a fully formed, well-rounded, respectable and respected individual, unafraid to speak out against discrimination and injustice with erudition and articulation. On the field his example lifted those around him, Keane and Tarkowski became England internationals whilst playing alongside him; as did Heaton and Pope whilst playing behind him. Ben Mee was a source of pride for Burnley, not merely as a player but as a one who represented the club with the upmost fortitude and dignity.
He joins – and is prominent among – the list of great Clarets central defenders during the more than half a century that I have been following the club: Brian Miller, Colin Waldron, Steve Davis, Michael Duff, Michael Keane, and James Tarkowski. The respect and admiration were and remains mutual, he will always be first and foremost, a Claret. It is now time to look forward, the trauma of relegation has now reached the acceptance stage of the grieving process, we have a new manager, a new team, and a new hope. Up the Clarets!

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