Burton Albion might be looking at a season of consolidation, a result of punching above their weight for so long.
Their fray into the Championship defied logic and reason, they have such small crowds and committed but limited footballers at their disposal. Instead of sinking without trace, they battled bravely and could have survived on the final day, but for a quirk of fate.
Looking at the League One roster this season could leave you ignoring Nigel Clough’s men, especially as Joey Barton and Lee Bowyer are set to do battle, Coventry and Portsmouth line up as the ex-FA Cup winners and Sunderland hope to dominate proceedings. The Brewers will be an afterthought, with some perhaps brushing over them despite their second-tier experience.
That belief was only heightened as players started to drift away from the Pirelli, no longer attracted by the level of opposition and beginning to see the club for what they consider it to be; a lower league side on a run of good luck. Those players might just be mistaken, as could any pundits writing off the plucky under dogs.
This week they completed a double-swoop, another piece of news that slides under the League One radar. David Templeton and Scott Fraser both signed for the club, neither making significant waves when it comes to headlines. Indeed, Mansfield Town’s capture of Tyler Walker provided more of a shock and all but a few die-hard League One observers will have passed more than a cursory glance at the news.
That will work just fine for the Brewers, always stronger than the sum of their parts. Their parts just got stronger, making the sum stronger still. Fraser, in particular, is a solid capture, a 6ft midfielder with over 100 outings for Dundee United behind him.
He’s only 23 and represents a good move for Burton, strengthening in a position they need. He’s not a ‘big name’ as such, but he’ll be a big presence and that is what the Brewers need. Nobody ever won anything on names alone.
Templeton is 29-years-old but there’s more experience to be had from him. He played for Rangers as they ascended the Scottish divisions and has seven seasons behind him in the top flight with Hearts and Hamilton Academical. Again, he might not be a big name but any side bringing in top-flight players to the English third tier is going to benefit.
The signings don’t make the summer, not by a long way, but they do demonstrate that Clough is scouring the whole of the UK for talent and that Burton is still a draw, despite being as unremarkable as they come in terms of stature. If they’re going to launch a promotion bid, they need teams to underestimate them, something that will serve them well in a pond filled with bigger fish.
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