Vincent Kompany dishing out ‘tough love’ in training after Burnley summer signing becomes a targeted man
Vincent Kompany is all about the 'tough love' when it comes to getting his flair players accustomed to life in the Championship.
Many of Burnley's creative stars haven't had any prior experience of English football, so are still acclimating to the demands of the division.
Former Royal Antwerp winger Manuel Benson is one of those who is still finding his feet in the country's second tier — and he's got the bruises to show for it.
The Lokeren-born attacker, who opened his account for the club when breaking the deadlock against Bristol City, has had a target on his back since making his move to Turf Moor last month, forcing Kompany to re-think his training methods.
Four-time Premier League winner Kompany said: "It started with trying to find the most aggressive full back we had to put up against him in training and never giving fouls against him.
"At the same time, with Craig Bellamy, who wasn't the biggest but was still playing in those leagues and doing really well, we've got the ability to give him some tools to try and deal with it."
The 25-year-old, an ex-Belgium Under 21 international, has been on the receiving end of some rather robust challenges in his eight appearances for the Clarets.
But, having been starved of 'special' treatment in training, while being thrown into combat down at Gawthorpe, the Etihad legend believes he'll quickly adapt.
After all, the cream always rises to the top, and the Burnley boss believes that Benson will follow suit.
"I don't mind that it's physical, the Championship has to be, but it's just the 'free hits'," said Kompany. "If you're tight, aggressive and you're trying to win the ball, then crack on, but if it's a free hit you [the referee] need to give him what he wants, because he knows he's going to get cautioned. Don't let him get away with it.
"Players with quality, which he has, will always rise to the top. You just need that little bit of time to figure things out."
Kompany — who had a big hand in helping Manchester City land their first ever Premier League title — has seen some encouraging signs from his forward-thinking summer signings so far.
The Clarets chief has started to see enough in his players, working both with and against the ball, to see that his side will have success this season.
Kompany concluded: "With the attacking players you try and balance the game out a little bit. They're all so focussed on doing the attacking bits and what they're good at, so the other side of the game, depending on where they've come from, is something they really have to adapt to.
"I'm only confident in my team being a good team if everybody runs. He [Manuel Benson] is having to adapt to it, but he's not the only one. You can already see signs that it's just a matter of time; I couldn't really point out too many phases where he wasn't doing the right thing off the ball, which made him better on the ball as well."