According to the Burton Mail, Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough has set told his side how many points he wants them to have going into the new year.
The Brewers are one place and one point above the relegation zone with 13 points after an away win against Millwall in their last match and Clough has laid down the gauntlet to his men to be on an average of a point per match after Christmas.
He said: “I think our aim between now and Christmas is to get back to that point per-game-ratio. We’re three points off it, and we have an opportunity between now and the Christmas game to say ‘at the turn of the year let’s try and be at a point per game’.”
Within the space of their next six matches, Burton come up against two teams who sit below them in the league, managerless Sunderland and basement club Bolton Wanderers and Clough will have his eye on those two matches in particular as ones where his side can make up the those three points and get back on the ratio he is asking for.
Brentford are another side that Burton must face during that aforementioned run and Clough was wary of their abilities, as they have recovered from a shaky start to surge up into the top half of the table.
He said: “Brentford are in great form at the moment. They’re nine unbeaten or something like that. They’re one of those teams, and we saw it in the second half of last season, when they click they can beat anybody.”
Clough was even wary of the home match against the rudderless Black Cats, adding: “Sunderland, if they’ve got a new manager we might just cop for that at the wrong time, you never know.”
Clough’s attitude is typical of the approach Burton have taken up to this point – take nothing for granted, squeeze every last drop of effort out of every game and make teams work for their points against you.
A points target can focus the players’ minds, especially if they feel the task is achievable but if they miss out, they will know that their manager feels they are already playing catch up.
With some winnable games on the horizon, the manager is just laying down the gauntlet to his players to try and inspire them to get ahead of the curve and stay out of the relegation zone going into the second part of the season.
Burton fans – do you think Clough’s target is realistic and would be enough to keep you out of trouble? Let us know below…