Burton Albion Continue To Move Towards Safety

Burton Albion continued their charge towards safety with a battling 2-1 win over struggling Swindon Town. The win ended a four-match winless run which had shown signs of familiar flaws leaving the Brewers eight points adrift of the relegation zone with eight games to go.

Since manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink joined in January, Burton has adopted a win-at-all-cost style of play. They try to out battle the opposition, rely on set-pieces and Tom Hamer‘s long throws to create chances. This system has proved successful so far but can be ugly to watch especially if things aren’t going Burton’s way. Can the Brewers continue to play this way or will familiar flaws creep in once again?

Burton Albion End Winless Run to Continue Run For Safety

A Look At The Flaws

Although Burton has stayed clear of the relegation zone mainly due to the six-game winning run, they are in danger of undoing their good work as they have only won one of their last five. Based on how bad The Brewers were before Hasselbaink arrived, they can’t be expected to win every game but Burton Albion is in danger of going backwards as familiar flaws in their game are starting to show.

One problem was the lack of chance creation outside of set pieces.  The front three of Kane Hemmings, Lucas Akins, and Jonny Smith have lost their recent good form and none of them has scored a non-penalty goal since Hemmings’ hat-trick at Crewe Alexandra.

Burton’s run to safety has been boosted thanks to goals from all over the pitch. The likes of John Brayford and Hayden Carter have all helped share the burden. This level of attacking output from the defence is only a positive but the Brewers will hope their attack can start scoring again soon.

One of the main contributors behind the lack of goal contribution from the attack has been the lack of creativity in midfield. Hasselbaink has often chosen Ryan Edwards in the number 10 position due to his great pressing ability and while Edwards helps Burton win the ball back once they get it they lack the main creator they need. The front three, especially Kane Hemmings, are often left to feed on scraps which leads to them becoming frustrated and snatching at chances. A solution to this problem would be to start Joe Powell in the attacking midfield position. Powell leads the team in assists despite only starting 17 of the 31 games he’s played in this season. He’s by far Burton’s most creative midfielder and had shown a new eagerness to press in recent appearances. Giving Powell a run in the team will show Burton what they have in him ahead of a busy summer.

Hasselbaink’s Previous Reign Offers Clues Towards Burton’s Future

Hasselbaink has managed Burton before, A highly successful spell in 2014 and 2015. Burton’s squad in those seasons was very strong defensively similar to this squad but had a flair going forward that the current squad lacks. Nasser El Khayati and prime Lucas Akins destroyed League Two defences before they were joined by Mark Duffy and did similar in League One whilst earning back-to-back promotions. Striker Stuart Beavon chipped in with goals too and did a similar pressing job to the one Ryan Edwards in being asked to do. This meant Burton could afford to have luxury players like El Khayati and still be solid defensively.

Jonny Smith is the closest player to El Khayati in Burton’s current squad and with a bit more development and consistency he could replicate the Dutchman’s numbers next season. Kane Hemmings battles like Stuart Beavon but doesn’t press as much as the current Mickleover striker once did. In midfield back then Burton played the same shape as they do now with Robbie Weir and Tom Naylor sitting behind Mark Duffy. All the Brewers’ current midfielders have the same battling abilities as Weir and Naylor but no one has the nimbleness and creative ability of Duffy. If Burton can find a creator like Duffy was they will be less reliant on set pieces for goals, be able to sustain attacks, and transition more quickly into them.

Burton Need a Playmaker For Sustained Success

Burton plays a similar style to Hasselbaink’s first reign but the lack of ball carriers and creative players compared with the 2015 squad leaves the Brewers playing a more long ball style to get the ball into the attacking phases and makes the team more hit and miss. Once Hasselbaink gets a real creator like Mark Duffy in his squad, which could be Joe Powell if he starts to develop and get minutes, Burton could see similar success to the Chelsea legend’s first reign in charge.

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