SPE­CIAL BREW DOWN TO THE BOSS

Clough’s call was key – Mous­inho

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Chris Dunlavy

BUR­TON Al­bion skip­per John Mous­inho cred­its Nigel Clough’s de­ci­sion to spurn Not­ting­ham For­est as a key fac­tor in se­cur­ing Cham­pi­onship sur­vival.

Widely tipped to strug­gle fol­low­ing pro­mo­tion in May, the Brew­ers boasted one win in seven and had just dropped into the bot­tom three when For­est came call­ing on Jan­uary 26.

Clough, who spent 18 years at For­est as a player, even held talks with Reds chair­man Fawaz Al-Ha­sawi and was ex­pected to make an emo­tional re­turn.

But, after an ag­o­nis­ing week­end, the 51-year-old an­nounced he was stay­ing at the Pirelli as he didn’t want to “jump ship” dur­ing a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle.

Re­sources

Since then, the Brew­ers – a Non-League side just eight years ago – have lost just five times in 17 matches to seal both sur­vival and the high­est fin­ish in their 67-year his­tory.

“The gaffer stay­ing was mas­sive for us,” said Mous­inho, who joined the Brew­ers in 2014. “To turn down a club like For­est, with all their re­sources and his­tory was a big deal in terms of him back­ing us and demon­strat­ing his be­lief that we were good enough to sur­vive.

“That week­end when he was be­ing linked to For­est, we went away and beat QPR, which was a mas­sive re­sult for us.

“Our away form hadn’t been great. And, with all the media at­ten­tion around the man­ager po­ten­tially leav­ing, we had ev­ery ex­cuse not to go and per­form.

“But we showed our spirit, got three un­ex­pected points, and I’d like to think that played a part in the man­ager’s de­ci­sion.

“He told us he was stay­ing be­fore it came out in the media and it gave ev­ery­one a boost.

“I think a com­bi­na­tion of that con­fi­dence from the man­ager and ev­ery­thing we’d learned in the first half of the sea­son is why we’ve done so well.”

Another fac­tor, says Mous­inho, was keep­ing a sense of per­spec­tive.

“I think the over­rid­ing feel­ing from ev­ery­one out­side the club was that we’d prob­a­bly do what Rother­ham have done,” he ex­plains. “Or, at best, put up a fight like Yeovil. “So, for play­ers at Bur­ton Al­bion to go to Villa Park, lose 2-1 and come off dis­ap­pointed that we hadn’t got some­thing – that’s quite ridicu­lous re­ally. “We’ve al­ways tried to keep that phi­los­o­phy. Ev­ery time we’ve had a de­feat or a set­back, we’ve looked at the ta­ble and said ‘Would you have taken this at the start of the sea­son?’ “The an­swer has al­ways been ‘Yes, one hun­dred per cent’. Six points clear with two games to play? Ev­ery­body at the club would have bit­ten your hand off. Ev­ery­one has been very re­al­is­tic.” And, now that Bur­ton can start plan­ning for a sec­ond sea­son, Mous­inho says keep­ing the team’s down-to-earth ethos in­tact is im­per­a­tive. “We’ve got youth and ex­pe­ri­ence, lads who’ve ad­justed re­ally well,” said the 30-year-old. “A great ex­am­ple is some­one like Lu­cas Akins, who’s scored goals and done very well. Ul­ti­mately, we’ve signed a lot of good blokes. No­body who would up­set the ap­ple­cart.

“That’s re­ally helped be­cause spirit is the back­bone of any side that wants to up­set the odds.

“None of us thought we’d get this chance and I think that’s prob­a­bly helped us in the way we ap­proach games.

“You’ve got lads scrap­ping away, lads who are used to play­ing for not much money.

Qual­ity

“They have that hunger and am­bi­tion to stay here.

“It’s bet­ter to have de­cent play­ers who are des­per­ate to win and will fight to stay in the league than tal­ented play­ers who aren’t.

“No­body here is just pick­ing up a pay­check.

“That’s credit to the man­age­ment staff and the chair­man. They’ve done a great job.

“Now, it’s about sign­ing enough qual­ity to take the club to the next level – what­ever that is.

“It’s a fine bal­ance and a tricky thing to do but it is vi­tal for us.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

LOYAL: Bur­ton Al­bion boss Nigel Clough EF­FORT: Bur­ton skip­per John Mous­inho, right, in ac­tion against Brighton

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