Tiny Burton try for miracle against mighty City

Burton Albion coach Nigel Clough celebrates after the Carabao Cup Quarter-Finals on Dec 18, 2018.
Burton Albion coach Nigel Clough celebrates after the Carabao Cup Quarter-Finals on Dec 18, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Burton Albion will need a "miracle" to overcome the might of English Premier League champions Manchester City over two legs in the League Cup semi-finals, said manager Nigel Clough.

The son of legendary manager Brian Clough, who led Nottingham Forest to two European Cups triumphs in 1979 and 1980, is also no stranger to producing Cup upsets.

Clough was in his first spell in charge when Burton, then in English football's fifth tier, held a Manchester United side boasting Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney 0-0 in the FA Cup in 2006.

Burton have since progressed to the third tier and are lying ninth in League One, but Clough believes stopping Pep Guardiola's City, particularly when they travel to the Etihad today, is an even tougher task.

"I think this one over two legs," said Clough, when asked to compare which was the tougher challenge.

"When Rooney and Ronaldo came on after 59 minutes here for Manchester United, it's a similar sort of prospect with the likes of the quality that Manchester City have.

"But, away from home, it's a different thing. When they are on their own patch, as you saw against Liverpool (City won 2-1), they're as good and as confident as anything."

DAVID VERSUS GOLIATH

We've not gone into any detail with them (the players) because that will frighten the life out of them. They know. They watch Match of the Day every week. They know exactly how good they are.

NIGEL CLOUGH, Burton Albion manager, on preparing his players for the two-legged semi-final against Manchester City.

Clough also masterminded Sheffield United's run to the last four of both the League and FA Cups when in League One in two seasons at Bramall Lane between 2013 and 2015.

However, in eliminating Championship sides Aston Villa, Forest and Middlesbrough and Premier League strugglers Burnley, Burton have not yet faced any team of City's calibre.

"We've not gone into any detail with them (the players) because that will frighten the life out of them," admitted Clough.

"They know. They watch Match of the Day every week. They know exactly how good they are.

"To reach the League Cup semi-final, in some ways the job is done.

"But we still have an outside chance of achieving a miracle, and that's what we'll try for."

City, meanwhile, are still in the hunt for four competitions.

After closing the gap on Liverpool to four points at the top of the Premier League, they thrashed Rotherham 7-0 on Sunday in the third round of the FA Cup.

Guardiola's men will also face Schalke in the last 16 of the Champions League next month.

"We do what we have to do to become a great, great club," said the Spaniard.

"The great clubs don't choose competitions, don't choose games, you have to do your job.

"I would like to have two months' holiday right now, definitely - this month is really tough, but it is what it is.

"We want to become a top club and you cannot deny any game, we cannot drop any competition. We are going to play the next game like a final."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2019, with the headline 'Tiny Burton try for miracle against mighty City'. Print Edition | Subscribe