Let’s Try Not to **** this All Away: A Burton Albion Story


Apr 9, 2014
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Breaking news reaching us here at Sky Sports is that Burton manager Nigel Clough has sensational quit the club on the eve of their Championship bow. Sources are telling us that the row is over transfer/wage budgets for the upcoming season, with Clough stating that they are nowhere near high enough to compete at the bottom end of the championship, let alone with the big boys and their parachute payments
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Figures being talked about are a transfer budget of around £150k and wage budget of £6k per week would certainly put them towards the bottom of the scale in the championship, and it was this perceived lack of ambition on the clubs behalf that has forced Clough to walk away from the club as they embark on what will probably be their biggest challenge to date on their meteoric rise from non-league football just a few years ago.

All focus now falls on who the club can bring in to replace the much loved Clough, with many fans siding with their now former manager the pressure is on the Chairman to make the right choice. With a number of managers out of work there are plenty of candidates to take over and the Board at Burton have indicated that they hope to have an appointment by the end of the week.


Burton Alboin have today appointed former Everton, Porto and RB Leipzig player Ralph Lavery as their new manager. Since retiring from playing the N.Ireland international has been studying at a local university back home in Belfast whilst gaining his coaching qualifications and appearing as a pundit for the BBC coverage of the Irish League and on Sky for N.Ireland games. Despite a wealth of playing experience he has never managed and this has left some fans sceptical and worried that his lack of managerial experience could cost the team in the long run.
So it was my first day on the job and I arrived at the Pirelli Stadium and was whisked straight into a press conference. Not what I was hoping to do, I wanted to go and access the playing staff at training however as it was pre-season the players had a double session booked so that would have to wait.
In a went and along with local newspaper and radio was Sky Sports so at least I wasn’t faced with a scrum of reporters, as dealing with the press wasn’t a strong point for me and definitely not something I enjoyed. Think I will be sending the assistant to these from now on!
So all the usual questions about ambition of the club and given the reason the previous manager ad resigned I guess they were to be expected. I toed the club line about cutting our cloth appropriately and not overspending and putting the clubs future in doubt. I agreed that the budgets were low but that I was happy with them and was positive throughout even when asked if I was selling myself short by becoming Burton manager.

Once the press conference was over I was straight down to the training to have a look at what I would be working with and I was beginning to see what Cloughie meant as the squad was ok but definitely in need of a number of players to keep us in the Championship and the budgets we have wasn’t going to be enough. After training I sat down with the coaching team and discussed the squad. I found out that we had a few players on loan who were ok but given that they were taking up almost a third of the wage budget and were only ok I decided to terminate the loans of everyone except the right back John Brayford. This would give me a few extra quid in wages to bring in my own players and ensure that the next couple of days were spent calling round agents to see who was out of contract that could add something to my squad.

Burton Sign Six
New Manager Ralph Lavery has wasted no time in reshaping his Burton team. He terminated the loans with the club and has set about binging in his own players.
3 signed on free transfers and these all look like exciting signings of young players, all with a chequered past and several clubs and all with a point to prove. If these nomad players can find a home at the Pirelli and the form that goes with that then the bookmakers may be wide of the mark in making Burton favourites for the drop.

3 loan signings are you up and coming players signed from some the biggest teams in England. Both Manchester clubs and Arsenal have sent 1 of their future stars to Burton with the hope of some game time and that Ralph can improve them whilst benefitting Burton.
Anyone know why pictures are uploading. If I try to copy/paste the see above for the result. If I try clicking the upload image button once I selected the file and clicked upload image nothing happens. Any help greatly appreciated
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Manager Lavery said “I more than happy with the business we have managed to get done. I think the 3 permanent signings are very good players and we may have raised a few eyebrows with the quality that we have managed to bring in, whilst the loanees help pad out the squad giving us a few options not just of personnel but also of systems we can play.”

So with most of our business completed early it was onto pre-season. As I had been up to my eyes in identifying targets and negotiating contracts I had left the friendlies to my assistant who had pick a nice mix of opponents that would hopefully allow us to hit the ground running when the season started.
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A mixed bag of results as we searched for our best line up and formation, however a few pleasing performances and fitness at a good level whilst we still have a bit to go to get the formation up to speed.

So onwards towards what would be my managerial debut and it’s good to see that the fixture computer has a sense of humour as we play a local derby against Nottingham Forest, one of the stronger teams in the league, away! Well this could either be disastrous or it could set us up for a good season. Lets see.
So August was an up and down month, book ended with derby wins but with a few disappointing results in between.

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The Forest and Derby games probably could have gone either way as we had more of the ball and matched them with attempts, even if more of ours were off target, but more than happy with to local derby wins. The EFL Cup was a distraction that we didn’t really need and I was too disappointed to go out, though all the way to penalties on both occasions did nothing for fitness especially with a smallish squad. Our game against Blackburn a draw was probably a fair result as we shaded procession whilst they shaded shots, that and we had just switched formation. That was prompted by two heavy defeats which looking back on it seem harsh given that we had more procession and shots in both games but failed to take our chances and were hit on the break in both games. It was this that made me swap an attacking midfielder for a defensive one. All in all not too bad a start to life in the second tear with 7 points from our first 5 games a reasonable return for the team predicted to finish bottom.
So after a solid if unspectacular start to my time at Burton I really wanted to kick on in September. We had a few games which I had identified as winnable and we need to continue to pick up points and push towards that magical 50 points mark, which I hoped would be enough to keep us in the division.

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I was a little down after only drawing with Wolves but a point away from home is not to be sniffed at I suppose. Defeat away to Norwich was pretty mush expected given that they have just come down and I fully expect them to be pushing for promotion this season. However I was more that pleased with our 3 wins and not just wins but clean sheets as well. Now it was three 1-0 wins but we bossed each game and completely deserved to win each of the, I mean Fulham only managed 3 shots and not one of them on target. So 10 points from a possible 15 and I was beginning to think I had cracked it and that we should be thinking more about play-offs than relegation.
So we started October with another 1-0 win however things didn’t go quite as planned from there on in.

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So three defeats on the spin certainly wiped the smug smile off my face. What was most frustrating was that we were the better team in all 3 defeats controlling procession and creating chances that we were just failing to take. A point at Leeds at least ended the month on the up, and perhaps I need to look at playing two up top?
Only three games in November and we need to get back to picking up points if we are to have any chance of surviving.

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Two defeats in games were things were fairly even and then a draw against Preston which was definitely the correct result as each team only had a single shot on target each. Really beginning to worry now, our form of late has been horrendous and we are dropping down the table rapidly. Its now nearly two months since we have won a match and during that time we have only picked up two points. That’s relegation form if ever I’ve seen it! I think a team meeting and either a change of tactic or personell may be in order.
So team meeting completed and the lads agreed that they can’t let their heads drop and that they need to buck up their ideas if we are to get ourselves out of the mess that we are creating. Five games in December, six if you include New Years Day and the Christmas period will mean rotation, and we haven’t got a squad for rotation. Couple that with the teams that are 1st​ and 2nd​ in the table and this could be a month to forget especially give our form.
First up were matches against Rotherham and Brentford, two teams at the wrong end of the table and games that we really need to win in order to put a bit of a gap between us and the relegation zone. Then it’s the top two followed by Christmas/New Year and 3 games in six days.

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So a slow starts to the month but draws are better than defeats but it does mean that we don’t extend the gap like I’d hoped we would. Then a ding-dong of a game against top of the table Huddersfield. We are go 2 up they pull it back with 2 goals just after half time. We retake the lead just after the hour only to be pegged back again. I’m fully expecting to lose only for Macheda to get an injury time winner. I think I scared the dog when I cheered! A draw with the Toon was ok but as we were 2 up it could have been so much better. A shuffled pack beat a struggling Villa side in a game we never looked like losing, then two disappointing draws again against teams I’d hope to be beating. Overall a great month, unbeaten and 11 points leaves us around mid-table at the turn of the year.

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So we head into January with four games coming up and a FA cup game to start with. Much like the EFL cup it is by no means a priority. Of our three league games I’d ideally like to win at least two and keep us looking up rather than down the table. January also brings the transfer window and a new contract; they must think I’m doing something right. Unfortunately as far as the window goes we have 0 transfer budget and less than £200 wage budget this is despite asking for more of both before my contract negotiations and as part of them. I guess loans were we pay nothing is the best we can hope for.

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So a hammering in the cup which only worried me because it could have a major impact on confidence. However we bounced back straight away with a good win at home to Wigan. Away to Cardiff was always going to be difficult and whilst I had hoped for better against Fulham a draw and another point towards safety can only be pleasing. We head into a busy February with six games coming up and its beginning to move towards the business end of the season. I’m still confident we will avoid the drop, and could even push for a top half finish if only we can start to score. Macheda is out of form so we need either him to rediscover his or someone else to step up.
We do manage to bring in three loans two on deadline day both from Man City, a centre back as we have a few injuries and suspensions there and an attacker to maybe score/create a few goals, we also secure a winger from Liverpool as cover on the left.

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