After last season’s disappointment, I’m pretty unsure as to how I think things will end up this season for Burton Albion.
After doing respectably well and finishing 13th in our first season in the Football League, our second season didn’t go quite to plan for Paul Peschisolido and the boys – with us finishing lower than the previous season in 19th. I personally believe that we were unlucky last season and if it wasn’t for the long backlog of games, losing some of our key players through injuries (particularly Nathan Stanton) and for players wanting to move on to apparently better their careers (Shaun Harrad moving to Northampton, who finished just a point above us for example?) then I do believe that in the second half of the season we could have pushed on towards the play-offs and could have had a successful season, however it just wasn’t to be.
Although despite all the disappointment that last season brought, there were some positive points and it didn’t all seem to be doom and gloom. Firstly, we had a great FA Cup run where we amazingly beat Middlesbrough at Home and we then give a good account of ourselves against Burnley before unfortunately getting knocked out. We managed to find ourselves a centre-half, that in my opinion is one of the best centre-half’s that I’ve seen down the Albion in my twelve years of watching them in Nathan Stanton and we also did manage to finish the season brightly seeing as at one time it did look like we could get relegated.
This season however, I do believe that Burton have assembled a squad that is good enough to get into the top half of the table and could maybe even look to finish even further up the table than that, but I’m not going to get too carried away. Once that the transfers started to get rolling around the country, firstly we brought in our former loan star Cleveland Taylor! Cleveland is one of those players that every club needs as he is not only a talented winger with great delivery, but he is also a player that has managed to build a great rapport with the fans and can really get the fans going in the same way that Aaron ‘G’ Webster can. Secondly, we signed Chris Palmer who I remember watching a number of times for both Notts County and Gillingham and I believe that from what I’ve seen in the past, he will give Pesch a big selection headache as to what wingers should start after having the great news that Jacques Maghoma has signed a new two year deal when he was thought to be leaving.
Also, not to forget young Jimmy Phillips who I do believe has all the ability in the world to cut it at League two level and higher, however it’s now up to Jimmy to begin pushing the first choice wingers all the way and step up to the plate when he gets his chances. Pesch has also brought in big Calvin Zola who personally, I am still unsure about. Despite him scoring a few towards the end of last season, he never seemed to be fully fit, so before I say too much about him, I would like to see him up top with somebody of a better class than Greg Pearson, who I believe is no better than a player who should be coming on from the bench for us.
From then on though, after a steady mixture of pre-season results which included a shocking 4-0 defeat to local neighbours Tamworth, Pesch has all of a sudden landed four signings to calm the nerves of some Brewers fans that had started to wonder whether or not we were strong enough. Ross Atkins has come in on a season long loan from Derby to be our new first choice keeper, former loan player Tom Parkes from Leicester once again comes in on loan, former Crewe left back Danny Blanchet has arrived and last but not least we’ve signed Justin Richards from Port Vale who has been linked with the Albion a number of times as he seems to know where the net is.
As for players who have left, we’ve unfortunately lost talented goalkeeper Adam Legzdins to Cloughie down the road at Derby. In a way this move has annoyed me due to the fact that Nigel has again come back to his old club for the player of the season, when he could have got taken a gamble on the hundreds of other good up and coming goalkeepers that are around. However, Cloughie has instead decided to gamble on another player from his old club again who are trying to keep hold of their best players, just as he did when he gambled on Jake Buxton which hasn’t particularly worked out great for his un-achieving Rams side. Apart from Legzdins and the players who have been released, unfortunately Russell Penn was the only other player who has left as he has left for Cheltenham Town; however despite him being a hard working midfielder, I don’t see this as a massive loss as I have faith in Mcgrath and Bolder in the middle, as well as young Jack Dyer who I think may be one for the future.
So as for next season, providing that the strikers can produce the goals, I do believe we will get into at least the top half of the league. The Brewers do however face some stiff competition with there being some very strong sides in the league again this season. I think that the same teams may be there or there abouts again this season, although whereas Torquay and Accrington had good seasons last time around and surprised a lot of people, I think that this season they will be in the lower half of the league and will be replaced by the likes of Oxford, Crawley and hopefully the Brewers!
Written by Rob Slater, We Are Going Up’s Burton Albion Blogger
Rob tweets at @rslater17