By Jon Harries
So Trash Talk this week is from a Burton die hard fan Ed Walker, also the host of the fantastic D3D4 podcast. Put the kettle on or open a cold one and enjoy.
Are you content with Burtons start to the season?
Not at all, for very obvious reasons. The sad part is that the signs of a relegation battle like this one were coming for a while. The second half of Burton’s 21-22 was a very poor one, and those negative performances carried into the new season. I am not one for caring about pre-season results, but when you are looking second best in matches against both Championship and National League North opposition then it is not a good sign.
The first two matches of the season saw Burton 3-0 down at Wycombe before half-time and 4-0 down to Bristol Rovers at half-time, and perfectly reflected the deep concerns I had before a ball was kicked. A miserable return of just one point from seven games led to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink resigning, Dino Maamria taking over, and Burton Albion having to play catchup ever since.
Are you happy with what you have seen so far under Dino Or did you expect more?
I think the word to use would be satisfied. The team clearly play better under Dino Maamria than they did under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (though that admittedly isn’t hard to do). A big part of that is a more positive formation with players operating in much more comfortable positions. There’s no more of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson playing in deeper midfield ahead of the much more suitable Terry Taylor for instance. Burton are still generally direct as a team, and still make full use of the big set piece threat they possess. I would say the frustrations come from individual matches rather than the season as a whole now. The points return has got Burton Albion back into the mix with the teams in the relegation zone, but there is still plenty more to do. Dino hasn’t been helped by the bad hand Hasselbaink gave him after letting both Gassan Ahadme and Louis Moult move on. The free market has had to be utilised to get bodies into the building, and naturally they are players who you think could add quality, but their fitness cannot always be trusted.
Which players do you expect to cause problems for the Dons on Saturday ?
With Burton Albion’s set piece threat being one of the strongest in the entire division, the sources of delivery will be players to watch. Full-back Tom Hamer provides a long throw that is normally launched to the nearside of the penalty box, with Sam Hughes tasked with providing a flick on that sends the ball deeper into the box for others to attack.
Midfielder Terry Taylor provides the right-footed delivery from corners or free-kicks. Sam Hughes is often again the target beyond the back post who can head the ball back across the box, but Deji Oshilaja has also been the player attacking these set piece deliveries recently. Oshilaja, when allowed to play in midfield, has been one of the best-changed players since Dino Maamria took the reigns. His tenacity and physicality makes him excellent in a roaming box-to-box role. Academy graduate Ciaran Gilligan possesses a similar midfield skillset.
Sam Hughes is the standout in defence, consistently solid and forming an excellent partnership with free agent signing Adrian Mariappa.
Are you happy with Burton transfer activity from the summer and which signings have impressed you the most so far?
I was far more happy with the arrivals than the departures. Deadline day in particular was very frustrating as then-top-scorer Gassan Ahadme was sold to Ipswich Town and Louis Moult was loaned to Motherwell the following morning. It left Burton at the time with just a single recognised striker in Victor Adeboyejo, who up to that point had never had a prolific season at this level.
Davis Keillor-Dunn, now back from illness, has been a very useful addition from the left-hand-side with his goals, direct running, and ability to strike a ball from range. I have wanted to see more from Corrie Ndaba and Elliot Thorpe, who have come in on loan from Ipswich Town and Luton Town respectively, but they are struggling for fitness. Viljami Sinisalo has come in on loan as a goalkeeper option from Aston Villa, but Dino Maamria seemingly still prefers Ben Garratt as his number one.
Who or What made you support Burton And what’s your highlight so far following the Brewers ?
My first introduction to Burton Albion was a suggestion from my Dad. We went together to the Pirelli Stadium to see Burton play Hereford United. The game was back in November 2009 in what was Burton’s debut season as a Football League club. I don’t remember much about the game as a whole, but I do remember that it finished 3-2 to Burton and club legend Aaron Webster scored the winner late on. If you’re hoping for an entertaining first game to spark your interest in a club, that was the ideal one.
My love and interest in Burton Albion would slowly grow from there, and be the time I reached my sixth form years, I was fully invested in the club’s results. It was a perfect time as well as Burton were in the midst of their two consecutive promotions, going from League Two to the Championship in the space of just two seasons. A 0-0 draw at Doncaster Rovers in May 2016 secured promotion to the Championship, and it’s a day I will never forget.
What style of play can we expect to see from Burton on Saturday ?
Burton generally will be a direct side, looking to make use of switches out to the wingers or balls played up the channels that hit midfielders who make runs in advanced areas.
Set pieces will look to be capitalised on at every opportunity. Tom Hamer’s throw will be sent into the box, with Sam Hughes likely tasked to provide a flick-on. Terry Taylor will send free kick and corner deliveries deep into the box for players to attack. Sam Hughes, Deji Oshilaja, John Brayford and Adrian Mariappa will all be the targets if they play. Expect the likes of Victor Adeboyejo and Bobby Kamwa to lurk around for the chance of getting onto a potential rebound.
If you could have any Dons player, who would it be?.
I’m desperate for Burton to have a competent, natural left-back, so I’ll go with Daniel Harvie. He’s one of a few players in this team I really like, Darragh Burns and Dawson Devoy being others. Harvie is someone I’ve considered to be a very consistent presence on the left side of the MK Dons line-up, and I think he’d add the dynamic attacking quality that isn’t there to quite the same level with either Cameron Borthwick-Jackson or Tom Hamer.
Have your expectations for the season changed after the change of management during the season ?
No. I was expecting a relegation battle before a ball was kicked and we are going to remain in one throughout the season. The change of management has however vastly increased my confidence of securing survival though.
Burton found themselves in this position two seasons ago, before Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Dino Maamria came in, and they pulled off a miraculous turnaround to secure survial before the end of the season. If Burton are to secure safety again in 2022-23, it is likely to be much more of a slog this time.
Which Burton game are you most looking forward to this season?
The games with Derby County are always hotly anticipated. Derby fans won’t welcome the idea of this being described as a rivalry (it’s a fair comment to be honest), but the close proximity between the two clubs does make this one of the games we were looking for first when the fixture list came out. The home game against the Rams is the following weekend after this match at Stadium:MK.
I was very much looking forward to finally visiting Exeter City after years without playing them, and it was an enjoyable afternoon as well with Burton winning 2-0 and picking up their first three points of the season! The trip down to Plymouth Argyle is our last away game of the season (who knows what’s riding on it by then) and It’s an away day I always enjoy. This could be the last chance for a while that we get to do it as well.
The Dons have had a poor start to the season considering the highs that were achieved last season, where do you think the Dons will finish in League One this year?
With the current state of the bottom of the League One, there’s only one of the four teams that can realistically see climbing to safety by the end of the season (who replaces them in there is a very tough question to answer). I think it will be one of MK Dons or Burton Albion who get out of the bottom four. Burton are performing much better than a bottom four side under Dino Maamria. MK are a team whose performances I cannot understand. The regression from last season is ridiculous and I hope that this trip to Stadium:MK might be able to provide some answers as to what has been going wrong up to now. It could well end up being the start of their recovery though instead!
A player that I feel has stepped up for Burton is Victor Adebayjo! What’s made the difference for you?
Victor Adeboyejo’s growth has been fantastic. He’s a player who has hit his mid-20s without every really being established anywhere. He was at Barnsley for many years and never managed to established a place in the starting eleven. Since moving to Burton Albion, he has become the established number nine, regularly starting games and being given the chance to showcase his ability as a centre forward. His ball control when tightly marked is impressive, and he can operate as a decent focal point even despite being not particularly large in terms of size. He is well on track to hit double figures for goals this season, something Burton don’t often have, and needs to be kept under lock and key when the January window rolls around!
Thank you for participating, it really helps us get a stronger understanding of the opposition! Finally, what do you think the score will be?
I never like doing score predictions because they never land how you want them to, so let’s be ambitious and go 3-3! Anything other than a tense, drab affair will do fine for me!