Burnley boss Vincent Kompany on the importance of man of the match Josh Cullen

Midfielder Josh Cullen made an instant impact on debut for Burnley with a near faultless man of the match display in the win at Huddersfield Town.

By Chris Boden
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 9:30 am

The Republic of Ireland international walked away with the Sky Sports honours after a metronomic performance, completing all 47 of his passes in the first half, and 79 of 82 overall.

Many Clarets found it bizarre to see him left out of the numerous Team of the Week selections in the Championship – put it this way, there must have been some quite remarkable showings to merit inclusion above him.

When he was reunited with Kompany, who took him to Anderlecht in 2020, much was made of his importance to the Belgian's 4-2-2-2 system, and how his side built attacks from the back.

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Josh Cullen of Burnley keeps possession of the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match between Huddersfield Town and Burnley at John Smith's Stadium on July 29, 2022 in Huddersfield, England. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)

And the way he slotted straight into the Burnley side at the John Smith’s Stadium, showed his understanding of what the new boss wants from his side.

While Kompany has gone for youth and potential in many of his nine, to date, summer signings, with Cullen, at 25, the only new arrival who isn’t 23 or under, sometimes you just need players you have worked with before.

It is not an unusual route – Stan Ternent brought several of his Bury double promotion-winning side to Burnley, while Eddie Howe signed Marvin Bartley and Danny Ings from Bournemouth, as well as Sam Vokes, who started his career at Dean Court, and Charlie Austin, who the Cherries had on trial.

At Manchester United, new boss Erik ten Hag has spent all summer trying to land his former Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona, while bringing in Lisandro Martinez from Amsterdam, while Christian Eriksen trained under ten Hag when he was a free agent earlier this year.

Kompany said, on the importance of Cullen: “I think you have seen it around, even at Man United, Ten Hag took a few players from Ajax...it’s just a thing where they know the system, they can communicate it to other players.

"I know him as a person, he’s a player that puts the team first.

"You can see he is a good footballer, but that’s only a small part of what he brings to the team, he keeps people together, he helps on the pitch, he communicates a lot, and that helps bring in other guys, your leaders like Barnesy, Jay Rodriguez, and they can pick up the messages quicker as well.

"It is good for him that he was man of the match but knowing him that is not his priority.”

Cullen also set the tone with the press at Huddersfield, and Kompany added: “Aggressive and front foot is what I like. The pressing, either it looks unbelievable or it goes completely wrong!

"With the first game of the season, I can tell you honestly, at night you wake up and think, are they going to get it or not?

"The lads, what they didn’t do right, they solved it with intensity.

"At times they weren’t in the right positions, which is normal at the start, but they made up the ground and were there to defend two v one situations.

"In the end we always ended up with more people around the ball, and then you’ve got a chance.”