Burton Albion 2016/17 Season
League Position: 20th (2015/16: 2nd League One)
Average league attendance: 5,227 (2015/16: 4,089)
Top league goalscorer: Jackson Irvine (10)
As impressive as back-to-back promotions from League Two to the Championship were they don't compare to the job The Brewers did in maintaining their second tier status last season, punching well above their weight under Nigel Clough to record a 20th placed finish.
Despite finishing just a point above the drop zone, Clough's side spent only one week all season inside the bottom three as they continued to do enough to keep their heads above water. Any thoughts that The Brewers would be overawed in the second-tier were quickly dispelled with early wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County, the latter of which briefly saw them inside the top six in early September.
Their form dipped off as autumn turned to winter but when they needed it, and more often than not against a side around them in the league, they took the points. Between October and February, Clough's side picked up just five wins but those successes included a double over Rotherham United and crucial victories over Cardiff City, Birmingham City, and QPR.
Some shrewd late January additions in the shape of Marvin Sordell, Luke Varney, Cauley Woodrow, Lasse Vigen Christensen, Luke Murphy, and Michael Kightly bolstered their attacking threat and propelled them to four wins and four draws from ten games in February and March. An incredible eight-goal game at The Pirelli Stadium, where The Brewers threw away a 3-1 lead to lose 5-3 to The Bees, could have weakened their resolve but they bounced straight back to beat Huddersfield Town, Birmingham City, and Leeds United in April to secure their second tier status for another year.
Click here for directions to the Pirelli Stadium
An accomplished striker in his playing days, Nigel Clough, son of legendary manager Brian, earned 14 England caps during a career that took in Nottingham Forest, Liverpool, Manchester City, Sheffield Wednesday, and Burton Albion. Clough made his name under his father at Nottingham Forest where he helped The Reds to two League Cup titles and two Full Members Cup titles. He scored 131 goals during his time at The City Ground before frustrating spells at Anfield and Maine Road saw him call time on his professional career in 1998.
Clough spent the next decade as player-manager and then manager of Burton taking them from the seventh tier of English football to the brink of the Football League before departing for Derby County in 2009. His four years at Derby saw steady improvement but he was unable to break into the Play-Offs. He was sacked in September 2014 after a poor start to the season, taking charge at Sheffield United a month later. His exploits in leading The Blades away from the League One relegation zone and to an FA Cup semi-final saw him named the LMA FA Cup Manager of the Season. United repeated their cup heroics the following season with a run to the League Cup Semi-Final but it wasn't enough to stop Clough parting company with United at the end of the season before a return to Burton in December 2015. Clough turned down the chance to follow in his father's footsteps and take the Notttingham Forest job in January, prefering instead to remain at The Pirelli Stadium
Head to Head
Brentford wins: 2
Burton wins: 0