CLOUGH RE­TURN WHAT WE NEEDED

Now we can keep up surge – Naylor

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE -

Nick Lough

TOM NAYLOR has praised Nigel Clough’s calm­ing in­flu­ence on table­top­ping Bur­ton Al­bion, four years af­ter he was plucked out of Non-League and launched into the Cham­pi­onship by the ex-Eng­land striker.

Many fans and pun­dits alike thought that, once Jimmy Floyd Has­sel­baink had an­nounced his de­par­ture from the Pirelli Sta­dium in favour of a switch to QPR, the wheels could fall off The Brew­ers’ League One pro­mo­tion push.

Fo­cused

With sta­bil­ity needed to keep them on track, Naylor feels the ship has well and truly been stead­ied by the re­turn of the man­ager who signed him from then-Con­fer­ence club Mans­field when he was boss of Derby County.

The Rams had lured Clough in Jan­uary 2009 with Bur­ton on their way into the Foot­ball League.

“In train­ing the week be­fore the game, Jimmy was so fo­cused on repli­cat­ing match sit­u­a­tions,” said Naylor, 24.

“The mo­ment he went, it was a shock on the one hand, but on the other we knew he was go­ing.

“The new gaffer came in and said from day one he didn’t want to change things.

He knows the club in­side out and we all agreed at a team meet­ing to keep things the same.

“Since Has­sel­baink left, we’ve lost only one game, so it proves we are do­ing what we set out to do.”

When the news fil­tered through to the train­ing ground that it would be Clough tak­ing the reins, Naylor fielded a lot of ques­tions about the ap­point­ment due to his past re­la­tion­ship with the 49year-old. “The boys asked me about the gaffer and I told them how he is around train­ing and around matches and his per­son­al­ity,” said Naylor, who started his ca­reer as a cen­tre-half or right-back but has found a home at the heart of Al­bion’s mid­field this term.

“He brought me to Derby from Mans­field, which I’ll al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate, and since he’s come back to Bur­ton ev­ery­thing has been go­ing re­ally well.

“I know how he works and, hope­fully, I’ve ma­tured a lot since the Derby days and he can see that now.”

Af­ter notch­ing a cru­cial win­ner in Bur­ton’s 1-0 vic­tory on the road at Peter­bor­ough on Tues­day, Naylor is lov­ing life in Der­byshire af­ter join­ing the club per­ma­nently over the sum­mer.

He said: “You look at my loan moves since I was at Derby and they are mostly in League Two. I’m just grate­ful I got the Bur­ton op­por­tu­nity.

“It was ab­so­lutely the right de­ci­sion to leave as it’s only half an hour from home. Then I got es­tab­lished in the side and we went on to win the league.

“There were no ques­tions for me when the gaffer wanted to make it per­ma­nent. I love the club, the boys are great and I want to keep fly­ing high at the top of the league.

“I’ve got a new role in front of Rob­bie Weir and I love it, break­ing the play up and get­ting for­ward as much as I can.”

Unique

With ex­pec­ta­tions ris­ing week by week, Naylor and Co are keep­ing their feet firmly on the ground as they look to keep their run go­ing. He be­lieves that, un­like their ri­vals, the Brew­ers have a unique at­ti­tude to the way they go about their busi­ness – some­thing that could be key come May.

“The boys aren’t re­ally look­ing at the Cham­pi­onship right now,” he said.

“We’re just tak­ing ev­ery game as it comes and adding up the three points.

“I just think we do it dif­fer­ently at the club. The chair­man Ben Robin­son is dif­fer­ent, but he does it in the right way. He doesn’t bring in peo­ple we don’t need on big wages.

“A lot of the play­ers in the chang­ing room who have signed for us have seen what the club is about, and know we’re go­ing places.

“We’ve been to Wi­gan, Coven­try, Gilling­ham and Peter­bor­ough and won, and we’re not afraid of any­one.

“We have the right play­ers to do our League One sea­son jus­tice and we’re top of the league be­cause we know how to play with each other.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

BREW­ING: Tom Naylor sees Bur­ton’s pro­mo­tion chal­lenge con­tin­u­ing. In­set: In his Mans­field days CALM DOWN: Nigel Clough’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to avoid too much change is ben­e­fit­ing Bur­ton

RISE: Clough took Tom Naylor

to Derby County from Non-League

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