Opposition view: How Burton Albion are in unknown territory

The last time Rovers met Burton, they were heading for League Two while the Brewers were on their way to the Championship.

Saturday, 18th August 2018, 9:26 am
Updated Saturday, 18th August 2018, 9:40 am
Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough

Plenty has changed since then. To get the lowdown on Burton, we spoke to Burton Mail writer Josh Murray.

Q: Following relegation, what are the expectations for this season?

JM: This season is the first in 41 years in which Burton Albion head into a new campaign following relegation.

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For that reason alone, it is hard to predict what will happen in the next nine months.

The club’s ultimate aim is to bounce straight back into the Championship, but they have acknowledged what a challenge that will be in such a strong third tier - and back-to-back defeats at the start of the new season has been an early insight into that.

For now, arresting the negative momentum from the drop is the focus, with Clough keen to see his side control and dominate more games than they were able to manage in two years of Championship football.

Q: Does Nigel Clough still retain the backing of supporters? How key will him remaining be to Burton pushing for a return to the Championship?

JM: Albion’s first relegation in 41 years was also Clough’s first as a manager, and he will be as determined as anyone at Burton to get them straight back into the Championship.

After a disrupted pre-season and two defeats from two at the start of the new League One season, there has been frustration from some supporters as they look for the team to regain momentum quickly after relegation.

It has been a quiet summer for them in the transfer window so far, with the squad at risk of being stretched if a few injuries hit.

Clough, though, spoke regularly following their drop out of the Championship about the need to streamline their resources now, with the budget adapted in a lower division.

Q: What style of play and system does Clough favour?

JM: They experimented with a couple of systems over the summer, but Clough has had his side lined up in a 4-3-3 formation so far this season.

Much of their attacking play goes through frontman Liam Boyce, who leads the line, holds possession up well and brings onrushing teammates into the game.

He has also scored both of their league goals after two games.

So far this campaign, they have been quick in transition going forward and are looking to take the game to their opposition - although that has left them exposed too often in the defeats to Rochdale and Gillingham, in which they conceded five goals.

Q: Who are the dangermen for Burton?

JM: It is hard to look past Liam Boyce for the all-round impact he has on their attacking play and his quality in front of goal.

Clough has challenged him to break the 20-goal barrier this season.

Academy graduate Joe Sbarra is one of Albion’s most exciting prospects, too.

The 19-year-old brings versatility in midfield and the forward areas, and he can cause real problems when getting the ball down to run at opponents.