Johnny Moore asks Colston Crawford from the Burton Mail to run the rule over the Brewers
Q: What is behind the remarkable chemistry between Burton Albion and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink?
A: When Jimmy first arrived as manager in 2014, to replace Gary Rowett, the appointment came right out of the blue and because of his charisma as a player, it excited supporters.
From the off, they were also excited by the results he got and Burton went up as League Two champions. He was well liked by staff, too. Sky made a short documentary in which he famously referred to ‘Burton – my Barcelona’ and his reputation was sealed.
His reappointment in January was little short of a second coming for the fans. There was a sense that if anyone could get us out of this mess, Jimmy could.
Q: How has he managed to turn a side that seemed destined for the drop into one that looks almost certain to survive?
A: He would immediately pounce on any suggestion that survival was ‘almost certain’, even now. Football cliché it may be, but it is always, always, one game at a time with Hasselbaink and about accumulating points.
After he watched, but was not in charge of, his first game after being appointed – a terrible 5-1 home defeat to Oxford – the one word he kept repeating was ‘organisation’. He has been as good as his word.
Burton are organised, disciplined and everyone knows their roles exactly. Bringing in 12 players also added plenty who had not become accustomed to defeat, too.
But he would also say it is not one man and his assistant, Dino Maamria, who he met on a coaching course, plays a big part.
Q: Were fans expecting the club to have such a difficult campaign?
A: Expectations are often high among supporters, but I would say many feared that it might be a torrid season.
The odds were stacked against them and while that has obviously been the case, financially, for all clubs, Burton also went in with a first-time manager, Jake Buxton, with a minimal backroom team, whose first job was to persuade a number of the senior players to take a wage cut, weeks after having been their team-mate. On reflection, that was a hell of a big ask and, sadly for Buxton, it proved too much.
Q: Who are the outstanding performers capable of posing Pompey problems this afternoon?
A: It is hard to single out players when the team have been on such a good run of form (they go into the Portsmouth match averaging two points per game under Hasselbaink).
Hayden Carter is a young centre-half on loan from Blackburn and Jimmy’s first signing. Burton had conceded 50 goals before the halfway point. Carter’s pace, reading of the game and three goals for good measure have been a big part of the improvement.
Winger Jonny Smith takes people on, creates chance and delivers a good set-piece, but is also prepared to get back and help effectively in defence.
Q: Will Burton be confident of claiming a first victory at Fratton Park this afternoon?
A: The players, schooled in the Hasselbaink way, and the manager himself will tell you they go into every game expecting to win. In that sense they will be confident they have the tools.
The reality is that they will be up against a resurgent Portsmouth side in fine form and when they met a Sunderland team in similar form, they were outplayed and lost 3-0 – the only time that has happened under Hasselbaink so far.
In conclusion, they will start the game confident, but I suspect Jimmy would not complain about a point from this one.