"That's our battlefield!" — Burnley boss Vincent Kompany's war cry ahead of Sunday's East Lancashire derby vs Blackburn Rovers at Turf Moor
"That's our battlefield!"
Vincent Kompany's war cry ahead of Remembrance Sunday's East Lancashire derby is what every Burnley fan will want to hear.
The magnitude of the Clarets' first league meeting with arch rivals Blackburn Rovers in six-and-a-half years doesn't need explaining to the 36-year-old.
The ex-centre back, who featured 24 times in the hotly-contested Manchester derby for City, has heard enough about the conflict in his short tenure at Turf Moor to appreciate what it means to people in these parts.
And, what's more, depending on Sheffield United's outcome at Cardiff City beforehand, it could pit first versus second in the Championship, as the home side look to stretch their unbeaten run against their neighbours to eight games.
"I've heard enough about it in the last four months," assured Kompany. "I've always lived for rivalries. I think in football, there are only the few that win trophies, let's be honest. Trophies are for a very select group of people so our trophies are these types of games.
"I could sit here like it is just one game but, as a football fan myself, that's our battlefield! Hopefully it will be entertaining for the fans, it has to be played in the right spirit, but we're here to give our supporters those moments. We'll give it everything we've got.
"It could be the bottom-of-the-table, it would still be the same. I don't want to talk it down. No matter how much respect I have for my counterparts and colleagues, I hope they go into this game with the same attitude and intensity as we intend to approach this game with."
From Kieran Trippier's chicken dance and Jason Shackell's primal scream to Danny Ings' match-winning roar and Scott Arfield's pitch-length celebration, hand-in-hand with Michael Duff. These are the moments that have defined recent meetings.
Now former Belgium international Kompany, who scored a winning goal against United to push the Citizens towards their first ever Premier League title, is ready to make a bit of history of his own.
"Proper preparation prevents poor performance," or, as Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time, put it, "Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion!"
The current league leaders will be putting everything into their rehearsals before Jon Dahl Tomasson's side come to town for the division's final fixture ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.
To the victor go the spoils, and weeks of basking in the glory, but it could be a long winter break for the team that finishes empty-handed. "I can only go back to my experiences as a professional," Kompany reflected. "What I've learned - and I didn't know it when I was younger, but I learned it with experience - you win those games in how you prepare.
"I know it's a quote from Muhammad Ali, which says the fight is won way before you get to that stage, but there's never been a saying as true. I think you build it up, you ramp it up, you focus on your preparation, but then when you get on to the pitch you have to trust yourself to let go."
He continued: "That's when you get your biggest performances. It was something I practiced a lot as a player, I was lucky to always show up in the big games, always more than the other games.
"But what I would advise a young player now is to focus on the preparation, give the right attention to detail, go home, sleep at the right time, eat the right way, then once you've finished your warm up, you're ready.
"Release, then do as you did as a kid, play with a smile on your face, be aggressive, play with purpose, then it takes care of itself."
Asked about Rovers' form under their Danish coach this term, having acquired more wins than anybody else, Kompany concluded: "If I want to give this derby the place it deserves, you'll hear no compliments from my side about the rivals!"