The Opposition View: Burton Albion

Last updated : 16 January 2015 By Jim Bonner

Given how well the season has gone for Burton so far, how disappointed would you be not to see your team get promoted now? 

Strangely, I wouldn't be absolutely gutted because I'm not entirely convinced that we're ready for the step up. We weren't last season (it showed at Wembley) and I don't think we are now. I appreciate it's a strange thing to say considering how long we've been in the promotion places but I think the quality of League Two this season isn't the best and we're currently benefiting from a very good start and a case of "new manager" syndrome just when others around us started to falter a little.  

Obviously it would be out of this world for us, one of the smallest league clubs in the country, to play in League One and I would be disappointed to an extent but it wouldn't be "end of the world" stuff because I know that we can grow a bit more both on and off the pitch.  We took our time getting into league football initially and I think we'd benefit from possibly another season competing (hopefully) at the top end of League Two. 

What do Burton fans think of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and how much has the team changed since Gary Rowett's departure? 

He's become an instant favourite with a lot of our support because of the start we've had under him.  The fact that's he's famous and brought us a fair bit of attention helped his cause!  A few of the older heads I think are still a little sceptical as he's moved a few of the favourites out and brought in a couple of free agents from abroad which is a completely alien concept for Burton Albion but by and large the squad is still mainly made up of Rowett's players.

 In fact Rowett's last signing, Darragh Lenihan (on loan from Blackburn), is the engine room of our team.  The personnel haven't particularly changed but we're trying to play a lot more football as opposed to the "percentage and territory" game Rowett used.  

What are the biggest strengths of this Brewers team? 

They give a shit.  Hasselbaink is similar to Rowett in that if someone isn't putting a shift in then they won't play next week.  The only player who it seems (and this is only my opinion) hasn't been as eager as most since Jimmy took over is Adam McGurk.  He was a Rowett favourite and got the first few games under the new regime, didn't turn up and now makes fleeting substitute appearances.  On his day he's our best player but the application just isn't there.  As a result we've ended up with a squad mostly of players whose commitment can't be questioned.  A lot of "lost cause" chasers. 

What are your team's greatest weaknesses that Pompey could exploit on Saturday? 

Inexperience in central midfield and a lack of firepower which many believe will ultimately cost us.  We're still trying to get used to short, quick passing as opposed to a lot of route one.  We've only been behind in a game for 8 minutes (plus injury time) since Hasselbaink took the job and that was an 82nd minute Shrewsbury winner.  Score first early on and we could crumble.

Are you surprised at how poorly Portsmouth have performed this season given the expectations at the club and players in the squad? 

Yes.  After the Barker debacle I thought that putting a club legend in charge, giving him a full pre-season and keeping the core of good players from the previous season and adding to that would have stood you in good stead.  I didn't expect you to be pissing the league by now but I certainly expected you to be better off than 17th.  You're only 11 points off the play offs though and Tubbs is a stellar signing. 

Are there any particular players in the Pompey squad that give you cause for concern? 

Matt Tubbs and Jed Wallace are the two who immediately spring to mind. Wallace because of the way he burst onto the scene last season and Tubbs has already scored against us this season and is obviously well known for being a prolific goalscorer. 

What type of match are you expecting at Fratton Park and are you confident of winning given the respective form of both teams? 

I'd expect an open game of football because that's how Hasselbaink wants us to play.  I think we need to be careful though as being too open away at a ground like Fratton Park may be asking for trouble, regardless of form.  As I've already said, we haven't had too much experience of going behind in a game recently and if it happens early on then I think we may struggle, especially with a large, boisterous home crowd behind the team. 

Predict the outcome of the game. 

Pompey 2 - 0 Brewers