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Burton & Peschisolido journey into the unknown

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Paul Fletcher | 13:23 UK time, Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The start of a new season is always a special time; one of new beginnings, when the sense of optimism that took root and flourished over the summer months is still firmly intact.

Emotions will be particularly strong at New Meadow as last season's play-off losers Shrewsbury host Burton Albion.

Not only will the fixture be the first Football League match contested by Burton in their 59-year history but it will also be the first meaningful game of Paul Peschisolido's managerial career.

It will not be an easy task, especially given that he has to follow in the footsteps of Nigel Clough, a man who is regarded in the very highest esteem in Burton after his successful decade in charge of the club.

Paul Peschisolido (left) is unveiled as Burton manager, along with assistant Gary Rowett (right)However, Peschisolido's arrival as a Football League manager has been years in the making. During the final years of a playing career that took the amiable and thoughtful Canadian to 10 different English clubs, he had started to pay particular attention to the style of the different managers he worked under as well as the techniques and training-ground methods they employed.

Peschisolido was starting to think about the future and, after hanging up his boots, advanced his education by spending last season as assistant to former team-mate Jeff Kenna at Irish league club St Patrick's Athletic.

"It was a good learning curve," explained Peschisolido. "I realised how much I enjoyed working with players on the training pitch and that management was definitely for me."

At the end of last season the 38-year-old heard that Burton were looking for a manager. He contacted close friend Neil Warnock, who managed the Brewers in the early 1980s and thus knew Albion chairman Ben Robinson.

Crystal Palace boss Warnock spoke in glowing terms about Robinson, a local businessman and lifelong Burton fan, who saw his first game as an eight-year-old, and put the two men in touch.

"One chat led to another, then another and then another and the next thing I knew I had been offered the job," Peschisolido told me. "It was kind of unexpected but a pleasant surprise."

Peschisolido walked into a club that was in some senses going through a period of transition as they prepared for life in the Football League.

Clough had presided over a decade of steady progression that saw the Brewers lead the Blue Square Premier by 13 points when he left for Derby in January. Burton brought in Roy McFarland as his replacement and although form tailed off the club clinched promotion on the final day of the season despite losing to Torquay. McFarland decided he did not want the role on a permanent basis.

When I spoke to Clough recently he argued that not enough had been made of the fact that Burton had managed to win promotion while operating as a part-time club. Skipper Darren Stride, for example, was not only the club's skipper and record appearance holder but was a building contractor.

Since promotion, however, the Brewers have gone full time and the new manager believes that his squad are relishing training every day rather than twice a week.

"We have players who have been desperate for this chance and let me assure you that it looks that way in training," said Peschisolido, who played under the likes of Warnock, Kevin Keegan, Billy Davies, George Burley and Jean Tigana.

Peschisolido has brought in experienced players such as Paul Boertien, Richard Walker and Guy Branston but has also pledged to stand by the team that won promotion. But his reasoning is not based on sentiment.

"I can remember sometimes that you get promoted and the players who did that are left behind, the service they have given is quickly forgotten and they are replaced," he said. "Sometimes I think that continuity is better."

During his decade in charge Clough drilled into his side a style of play that looked to get the ball out to wingers, who in turn delivered plenty of service to the front two.

And Peschisolido, married to Birmingham City managing director Karren Brady, is determined to ensure that Burton continue to try to entertain with football that is pleasing on the eye.Paul Peschisolido in action for former club Sheffield United

"There will be games when you have to go direct but I want to get the ball down," he said. "I believe in possession football, good movement and playing with a high, high tempo. Everything we do on the training pitch is very high tempo."

The new manager has not been afraid to tap into the knowledge of his predecessors, speaking to both Clough and McFarland within 24 hours of his appointment.

"Nigel has a piece of them in his heart and has been very helpful. I have picked his brains with regard to players and what to expect, taken advice on how to move forward," added Peschisolido, who took his players paintballing as part of his team's pre-season preparations.

Peschisolido is also far from alone in his adventure, having brought in Gary Rowett as his assistant.

Rowett, who finished his playing career with the Brewers, is a keen student of the game. He also applied for the managerial role at the Pirelli Stadium and Peschisolido regards himself as fortunate to have him on board.

It is probably just as well that the manager has an able number two as Peschisolido admits to being surprised at some of the tasks that he has found himself undertaking.

"Training sessions, the food eaten afterwards, the travel arrangements, numbers for the training kit - we have to organise everything. It is time consuming but fantastic," said Peschisolido.

"People say you miss the playing side of things but this is fantastic. I think I almost enjoy this more than being a footballer."

Of course the enjoyment of Burton and Peschisolido's adventure will to an extent be determined by results. Losing, after all, is rarely much fun.

I have heard Robinson describe the forthcoming season as one in which he hopes Burton will steadily familiarise themselves with their new surroundings and take a good look at what is required at their new level.

Last year Exeter did more than take a look, securing back-to-back promotions on the final day of last season - something that is not lost on Peschisolido.

"It can be done," he said. "An achievement will be to stay in the league but we believe we can surprise a few along the way."


  • Comment number 1.

    I always thought Peschisolido would do a decent job in management as he obvioulsy has a brain on his head... whilst all the other Birmingham players were out pulling chavvy slappers - he wormed his way in with the millionaire Managing Director... then sealed moves to and from the club (no doubt earning good money to boot)... if he continues to use that shrewd judgement he will go far!

    good luck Paul

  • Comment number 2.

    Good luck, Pesch ! Happy memories of him playing for the Blades (that's him in the photo - leaving the Wednesday muppets for dead ! ). We could put him on for the last 20 minutes and tell him to get a winner and he usually did (sometimes two) ! When his speed went he used guile and we should have kept him longer. I think he'll make a good manager. He's got a brain and communicates well.

  • Comment number 3.

    Peschisolido was assistant at St Pat's in Dublin where I hail from. His partnership with the current boss Jeff Kenna was an absolute disaster- both preferring to commute from England (that's right!) for training and games.Since Paul's departure the Saints have not been much better hugging the bottom half of the table(St Pats are traditionally one of the top sides in the league of Ireland) so i wouldn't hold my breath if I were a Burton fan.

  • Comment number 4.

    #3 The situation with St Pats is obviously different from the one in Burton so give him a chance, it's a bit early to judge him.

    He looks like he has got the makings of a good manager with all of his journeyman experience and contacts in the game.
    I wish him the best of luck.

  • Comment number 5.

    It would be nice to see a canadian do well in management, however his experience and time in the UK over the years now qualifies him as a nationalized Brit. I love that people from all over the world can get to the top through their passion for the game. Football is clearly the most brilliant game in the world. Good luck to Paul; good luck to those that follow.

  • Comment number 6.

    somehow i was a huge fan of peschisolido when i was younger ever since he played for fulham. where he had 1 goal every 4 games ratio, but the fact that a canadian was playing in the english league was more of pull than his goal ratio.

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh dear. IMO Paul Peschisolido has very big boots to fill at Burton. What Nigel Clough achieved there was exceptional considering Burton were a part time club. Why do I think it will end in tears?
    1 Peschisolido is a journeyman (his playing career proved that)
    2 He didn't show commitment to St Patricks Athletic, he should have moved to Dublin if he was serious about the job.
    3 He used St Patricks as part of his "CV to obtain the Burton job even though he didn't make a success of it.
    4 He may have a brain in his head (most people do) but is it the right type of brain for Burton Albion.
    5 He is a good friend of Neil Warnock.. enough said

  • Comment number 8.

    As a Burton fan, I was a little sceptical when Pesche was appointed. But ever since, i've been getting more and more excited about his appointment. Almost everything he's done and said so far has filled me with confidence (probably with the exception of the Lee Morris situation). Exciting times to be a Brewer!

  • Comment number 9.

    Peschisolido and Rowett have a big job on there hands. The Chairman seems to be backing them all the way which is nice to see. Just to make it into the Football League is an achievement but to stay there would be awesome. Burton have signed some decent striker's who can cut it at League 2 level.

    Good luck Burton Albion

  • Comment number 10.

    I think the appointment of Pesch and Gary will turn out to be a very good one. We have made some excellent signings, added to that we still have the majority of our best players from the title winning season and I think we will finish in the top half of the table. I Have been very impressed with everything Pesch and Gary has done so far and I'm really looking forward to the new season, exciting times are ahead.

  • Comment number 11.

    Good luck Pesch from everyone back home!

  • Comment number 12.

    @ 7 - with all due respect, none of those reasons listed are anything to do with his ability to do a job at Burton. Allow me to expand:

    1) Pesky is a journeyman. And? This means he has picked up experience of working under many different people. How will that make it end in tears? It's more of an advantage than a disadvantage. Besides, he was a journeyman footballer. Nobody knows what kind of manager he's going to be yet and the two are totally different beings.

    2) He did'nt show commitment to St Pats. Again with due respect, this is just a reason for YOU not to like him, it says nothing about his management ability. What you call non-commitment, I call ambition.

    3) He used St Pats to get the Burton job. Again, ambition and a reason for you not to like him, but it says jack all about his management ability and is not an indicator that it will all end in tears.

    4) Right type of brain? Who knows, thats why he's gone to Burton, to see if he has or has'nt got it. It's called ambition.

    5) He's a friend of Warnock. Okay I'm not Warnocks biggest fan either, but what the hell has this got to do with Pesky's management ability?

    As I said previously, you have given 5 reasons why you personally dont like him. Those reasons come nowhere near to justifying your statement that it will end in tears. Time will tell, but by your logic, he will fail simply because you dont like him. Great logic.

  • Comment number 13.

    The Pesch is back! All the best to a thoroughly likeable bloke!

  • Comment number 14.

    He's a friend of Warnock. Okay I'm not Warnocks biggest fan either, but what the hell has this got to do with Pesky's management ability?

  • Comment number 15.

    Neil Warnock has friends?!

  • Comment number 16.

    I always like Pesch, yes he was a journeyman but he was also a battler, a winner and a grafter. and just because a guy fails at one club doesn't mean he cant be succesfull at another! Didn't Sir Bobby Robson get sacked at Fulham before going on to arguably one of the most succesfull Management careers ever seen, so give the man a chance cos it could go either way as we've seen many times with other managers, methinks b20villa and jodymoylan are fans of a former rival club of Pesch and are having a little fun. Anyone heard from David O'leary of late?

  • Comment number 17.

    There's some real back handed compliments in these posts! I'm sure most fans (unequivocally) welcome him and Burton Albion to the football league.

  • Comment number 18.

    # 16 It's nothing to do with the fact that Peschisolido played for Birmingham City Football club, that Karren Brady is his wife, he played for Neil Warnock at Sheffield United or that I am a season ticket holder at Villa of that you can be certain. The reasons I gave were purely how I see things,they really were just my opinion. As far as Burton Albion joining the football league I think it's absolutely brilliant.

  • Comment number 19.

    # 16 Sorry in answer to David O'leary. I haven't heard from him for ages, I think he must have changed his phone number, he just doesn't return my calls. Last I heard he was living somewhere in Yorkshire, probably to escape from both myself and Deadly.

  • Comment number 20.

    I knew Paul back in Canada before he went pro, he played in my soccer team. He played forward but we eventually stuck him in goal (where he was exceptional). I think he was the designated outfield player to play in goal for the national team if the 2 named keepers were injured in a game.

    A very genuine and likable guy, I've followed his career as a player and will now do so as manager. Good luck to him.

    I discovered that his uncle was also my Dr. the same last name made me isn't like Smith now is it? and it stood out.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hey, aren't we all missing the point here ??
    The yardstick is Burton's chairman, Ben Robinson.
    He has guided Burton to where they are today. He's a gentleman of the highest order with astute judgement to match and if "Pesch" is good enough for him, he'll be good enough for everyone else.
    Ben will back him all the way, just as he did with Nigel Clough. Patience is a virtue and Mr Robinson has that in abundance. Burton are now on a very sound footing. Whatever happens this season you can be sure the Club is heading in two very positive directions - forwards and upwards !!
    Good luck Brewers - you've earned your place in the Football League the hard and honest way. Hard work on the field and superb husbandry off it.

  • Comment number 22.

    I've been watching a Sheffield United DVD this week, and had forgotten what a stunning player Paul was for the Blades! Good luck for the season Pesch!

  • Comment number 23.

    Pesch did seem like a very decent bloke to me and, having asked around a little, plenty of people have good things to say about him.

    I have to say that it is very harsh that some people have concluded that there must be something wrong with him because he lists Neil Warnock as a friend. Though I do see what they are getting at.

  • Comment number 24.

    i was over the moon when i found out about this as pesch was my top fav player for Derby! Also as Burton has a connection with the club via Clough etc... it made my day!

  • Comment number 25.

    Pesch has learned a lot from the different clubs and managers he has played for.He understands what is needed for a sucessful team.Ben Robinson is Burton Albion through and through,he has made some exceptional appointments as manager,Ian Storey Moore,Niel Warnock and Nigel Clough,i have every reason to believe he has made another one.Gary Rowett as coach is also an inspired choice,he knows the club well having finished his playing career here.The players signed have all performed well pre-season and i think we may well be under estimated by every other team.


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