Burton fan Derek Wainwright (@DerekWainwright) gives us taste of what to expect from the Brewers as football returns to Adams Park this Saturday.
As we come up to the halfway point of the season, you’re sitting right in mid-table but not far off the play-offs at all. What have you made of the campaign so far and have your expectations changed since the summer?
Expectations were high at the start of the season. Last season, we were unprepared due to relegation and having to revamp the squad. This season, a small but talented squad has been put together. Great loan signings have come in too from Premier League clubs to give us youth and talent mixed with the experience of seasoned players. We are playing some of the best football I have seen us play. It’s frustrating that we are unable to convert most of our chances into goals with poor shots to on target statistics. With a small squad, injuries we have already may further impact our push for the play-offs in the New Year, but I believe we will make the play-offs and a day out in London beckons.
Who have been your star players so far and why?
[Midfielder] Stephen Quinn is my personal star player. He does all the ugly stuff: protects our defence, wins the ball back, and keeps us going forward. Our ‘keeper Kieran O’Hara (on loan from Manchester United) is the best we have had, a star of the future for his parent club and the Republic of Ireland. Lucas Akins is a great servant to the club and plays in most positions – Iouldn’t be surprised to see him in a Santa outfit at the Christmas party. [Winger] David Templeton is our most skilful player, with [midfielder] Scott Fraser a close second. Both are capable of beating players and scoring from free-kicks or outside the box. Richard Nartey (on loan from Chelsea) at centre-back is another star of the future; he reads the game superbly and his anticipation is excellent. [Fellow centre-half] Jake Buxton is a great leader and model professional; he always gives 120% and, while his best years may be behind him, will still run through walls for the team.
Just sum up your style of play. What are the main strengths and weaknesses?
Our style is attractive attacking football with a strong defence. We’re very much a passing team and play on the floor (no grass in the clouds). Our strengths come from the spine of the team and the ability to switch play down either flank. [Sir] Colin Daniel returning from injury has added to our attacking options and is a great at crosses to [robust striker] Liam Boyce. Our weakness is not scoring enough goals. Someone will be on the receiving end of a good hiding one day, but who and when that are not clear.
Burton have been on quite a journey over the last decade or so – thanks in no small part to Nigel Clough, of course. Do you think you might make it back to the Championship in the near future, or are you just glad it happened and happy to sustain yourselves as a League One club? We’re not getting ahead of ourselves, but Wycombe are potentially on a similar trajectory at the moment.
The Championship must always be our goal. On the upside, it brings us extra revenue, and to play against European Cup winners and ex-Premier League teams is fantastic. Last time, it was so hard to compete with our small fan base and budget, but maybe we can be a yo-yo team between both leagues. To be in League One is a massive achievement by the club, mainly due to the combination of chairman Ben Robinson MBE and Nigel Clough. On the downside, we had to change our style of play to be less expansive and try to contain the opposition. Frequently, we had to play on the counter-attack and this isn’t as pleasurable on the eye as how we are playing in League One.
If Wycombe do get promoted as looks likely then we would wish them well. It’s an enjoyable ride, but keep one eye on the budget as it’s an expensive league to compete in.
Last of all, how do you think the game will go and what’s your score prediction?
My prediction is for an open, attacking game (subject to us having a full team available). However, with both teams not high-scoring recently, the defences may win the day. A score draw is my prediction, and 1-1 most likely.