Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has admitted that, statistically at least, the pressure is easing for Burton Albion in their battle to stay in League One.
But the manager will not countenance any change in approach until survival is mathematically certain – and even then, there will be little room for experimentation until the end of the season.
The statistics say the job of staying up is almost done – and it could conceivably be done if the Brewers beat Plymouth Argyle on Saturday (12.30pm) and other results go their way.
Burton are 11 points clear of the drop zone with six games left before Northampton Town play Peterborough United on Friday night and the gap will still be 10, whatever the Cobblers have done.
“Obviously, the pressure, being where we were and where we are now, is a little bit off us but it doesn’t mean that we won’t approach the game in the right way and try to get the right result for us,” said Hasselbaink.
“We aren’t concentrating on the 11 points that we are ahead. Don’t get me wrong, we are in a really good position for what we want to achieve but if we want to get better we have to stay hungry – and just want to win.
“We can’t be satisfied and we’re not. It’s very important that we get that mentality into the club, that whatever happens, we always want to win. We want to give 100%, with a team ethic, and have that vibe whatever situation we are in.”
It was put to Hasselbaink that the Brewers’ danger of relegation is now so remote that, away from the club, what they have achieved may not now be noticed.
“To be forgotten about in the situation we are in is absolutely brilliant!” said the manager. “I give my players a lot of credit but it’s not up to me, it’s for other people in football to give out credit.
“We know we have turned it around very quickly. The players have listened, believed, worked really hard and done really well. If you had asked me, would I take this amount of points when we started, I would have said yes – and we still have 18 to play for.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say I was happy with where we are but when we played on Tuesday, Wigan won, Wimbledon won – they have won their last two matches. Wigan are playing really well of late, so it’s good that we have kept on going.
“But I don’t really concentrate on the others. If we get three points, we’ve done our job and we can’t control the others. If we do our job, the rest will be.”
Thoughts must surely be turning to summer plans, though? Hasselbaink says that Neil Hornby, who he had on his coaching staff in his first spell at the club, is the only man charged with looking ahead at this stage. Hornby, a vastly experienced coach and scout, is working as the Brewers’ head of recruitment.
“I want to be mathematically safe and then we will make plans – look at the recruitment, look at what we can change internally with the set-up,” said Hasselbaink. “I can’t do all the jobs myself! I have Neil Hornby helping me with the recruitment. At the moment, our head of recruitment is making two plans, for League One and for League Two and I’m not interfering too much with that.”
Meanwhile, fans have welcomed the club's season ticket offer:
An offer by Burton Albion for season ticket holders to “roll over” their unused tickets from the 2020-21 campaign to next season has brought a positive response from fans commenting online. Chairman Ben Robinson wrote to the season ticket holders this week with the offer.
He said: “Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Dino Maamria have pulled together a strong League One squad in a short space of time and I am sure you will be excited to see how the team gets on next season.
“Therefore, we would hope you would be willing to roll over your existing season ticket to the 2021-22 season. There will be no extra charge and you will have top priority if the number of fans permitted to enter the Pirelli Stadium is restricted.
“We hope you will stay with us and join us for what we hope will be an exciting season. However, further to our previous promise, as there has been no chance to see games this season, you may request a full refund if you prefer.”
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