'Winning games isn't all about possession' - Burton boss reveals change in thinking ahead of Town clash

File photo dated 15-09-2020 of Burton Albion manager Jake Buxton

Burton Albion boss Jake Buxton brings the Brewers to Portman Road tonight - Credit: PA

Burton Albion boss Jake Buxton has revealed the secret behind his side's upturn in form - stop worrying so much about possession.

The Brewers, who visit Portman Road tonight, may be bottom of the table, but are unbeaten in four games, including a 4-2 win over Charlton and a 1-1 draw with Sunderland.

And Buxton, who took over from Nigel Clough in the summer, said the turnaround all stems from some tough discussions and decisions after his side's 3-1 home defeat to Northampton last month - the last time they lost a game.

“We had games at the start of the season when we were dominating possession and getting some results,” Buxton told the Burton Mail.

“Then we went through a period when we were dominating possession but making individual mistakes and conceding goals from set-plays.

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“Winning games isn’t all about the possession. It’s important to be hard to beat and have a good structure and organisation without the ball. In recent games, I think we’ve added that.

“At the start, we wanted to be dominant on the ball, on the front foot. Without the ball, we wanted to get after the opposition, not give anybody time on the ball and be in people’s faces.

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“That was the mindset and the information we were giving the players for the first 10-12 games of the season. But we had not picked up enough points. Something had to change.

“I was asked after the Northampton game, would I stick to my principles? But I decided to change. I wasn’t too proud to change. You have to be big enough to admit that you need to. 

“We reached a position we really weren’t happy with against Northampton. In previous games, we had not picked up points but performances were OK and I was trying to keep encouraging the group and keep confidence high.

“We’d also had games where we weren’t quite at it but had picked up points. Against Northampton, we had neither and it was time to hit the re-set button.”

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Buxton said the change in approach meant some tough conversations with players.

“We spoke a few home truths. I didn’t believe we were doing things correctly,” he continued.

“Since then, we’ve had an upturn in performances, results and the attitude of the players in the side and those not in the side.”

Paul Lambert appeals to the referee during Ipswich Town's loss to Portsmouth

Jake Buxton's Burton face Paul Lambert's Ipswich Town at Portman Road tonight - Credit: Steve Waller

The Brewers are now allowing opponents the ball in non-dangerous areas, pressing hard when required and looking to steal the ball to set up counter attacks.

It may not be the way Buxton ideally wants to play, but it's working for now.

“There’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing at the moment but in the long-term we can’t keep playing like it,” he said.

“We have to become a bit better with the ball. But, for now, we’ve made ourselves hard to beat and we’re working harder without the ball than we’ve ever done.

“Next, our quality with the ball needs to improve so that when we do win it back, we don’t have one or two passes and then give it back again.

“The current block of games, we have been coming up against good footballing sides and that sometimes dictates how you are without the ball. At times before, I was putting with the ball ahead of without the ball."

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