SPECIAL BREW DOWN TO THE BOSS
Clough’s call was key – Mousinho
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.
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.
“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.”
LOYAL: Burton Albion boss Nigel Clough EFFORT: Burton skipper John Mousinho, right, in action against Brighton