Burton manager Nigel Clough is not spending much time briefing his players on Manchester City’s qualities because he does not want to “frighten the life out of them” ahead of the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.
League One club Burton will head to the Etihad Stadium next Wednesday knowing their chances of progressing any further in the competition are extremely slim, but they are determined to enjoy the rewards of an excellent run so far.
Burton have knocked out Aston Villa, Premier League side Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough to reach the last four, but after watching City’s 2-1 win over Premier League title rivals Liverpool on Thursday, Clough was realistic about his side’s prospects.
“We’ve not gone into any detail with them because that will frighten the life out of them,” he said. “They know. They watch Match of the Day every week. They know exactly how good they are.
“We’ll approach it exactly the same way we did against the Championship clubs and Burnley. We can’t do too much on them because we don’t know what team they’ll play.
It helps in some ways because we can focus on ourselves, do our jobs and hopefully they’ll have a terrible night, which is what it will take for something to happen in our favour.”
The tie will evoke memories of Burton’s 2006 FA Cup meeting with Manchester United, when they held at bay the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney to earn a goalless draw at home and a replay at Old Trafford which ultimately transformed the club.
Smartly investing their financial windfall, they went from a non-league outfit into a club that enjoyed two seasons in the Championship until suffering relegation on the final day of last season. Clough, in his second spell in charge of the club, is looking at the semi-final very differently from that United clash, given Burton would need not one great night but two to advance over the two legs.
“To reach the League Cup semi-final, in some ways the job is done,” said the 52-year-old, who was twice a winner of the competition as a player with Forest. “But we still have an outside chance of achieving a miracle, and that’s what we’ll try for.”
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)