Burton Albion vs Newcastle United: A David vs Goliath struggle
Posted on December 16th, 2016 | 57 Comments |
As Newcastle United travel to the 6900 capacity Pirelli Stadium to face Burton Albion, one of the smallest teams in the Championship, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look at how the spectrum of teams in the Championship is as wide, and maybe even wider as it is in the Premiership with the gap between teams like Manchester United and Burnley.
To explain and give some kind of perpective, football transfer website, Transfermarkt estimates that Toon players such as Aleksandar Mitrovic (est value £10.2 million), Jonjo Shelvey (£9.35 million) or even Chancel Mbemba (£8.5 million) are worth more individually than the whole Burton Albion squad, which is valued at an estimated £7.57m in total. Whilst the average Newcastle United first team squad member is estimated to be worth £4.01 million, at Burton it is only £303,000.
So, I think it’s fair to say that the odds are stacked against Burton, even on their home ground. You will find the current Championship betting odds at 26/5, with 3/1 for a draw and 2/3 for a Newcastle United victory. Like the Cup though, nothing is certain until it’s over. After all, when Burton were in the Conference in 2006, they famously upset the odds drew 0-0 with Manchester United in the FA Cup. In 2011 when they were a League Two side, they shocked Middlesbrough as well with a 2-1 victory in the same competition.
Hence, writing as a Newcastle United fan, I come to praise Burton Albion, and definitely not dismiss them. Relatively speaking (or writing in this case) they have certainly made far more of their lighter resources than Newcastle United have of theirs in recent seasons. What they have achieved in the last few seasons is remarkable. In 2009 they were in the Blue Square Conference. As recently as 2015 they were in League Two. After promotion under then manager, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, they were promoted to League One. Hasselbaink left for QPR but despite that, they were still promoted to the Championship under a previous Burton manager whose father knew a thing or two about getting teams punching above their weight, Nigel Clough, who will lead the teams out on Saturday.
Currently, they are struggling just above the Championship relegation places but even so, they have still done magnificently under the circumstances, and though I’m biased and hope that the Magpies take another three points at Burton, I hope they survive their first ever season in the Championship, and go on to even greater things.
Returning to the original question in this piece though, why is the gap now so wide in the Championship? The biggest factor has been probably been mismanagement and complacency at large, historic clubs who you wouldn’t normally expect to see in the Championship with their budgets. This season of course, Newcastle United are definitely one of those, along with Aston Villa, and even Norwich, who were doing quite well financially in the Premiership.