Nigel Clough: Burton Albion return a difficult decision

Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough initially took over at Burton as a player-manager in 1998

Manager Nigel Clough hopes he will not tarnish his reputation at Burton Albion following his decision to return to the club after almost seven years away.

In his initial 11-year spell at Burton, Clough took the club to the verge of promotion to the Football League before taking over at Derby County in 2009.

He rejoins the Brewers with the club top of League One.

"I don't want something to spoil the 10 years we had here and people's memories," Clough told BBC Radio Derby.

The 49-year-old said the success of his first spell, which saw the club rise from the Southern and then Northern Premier League to the top of the Conference, made the decision to succeed Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink "a difficult one".

Nigel Clough - The manager
Burton Albion: Oct 1998 - Jan 2009Derby County: Jan 2009 - Sep 2013
Sheffield United: Oct 2013 - May 2015Burton Albion: Dec 2015 - present

Taking over a side in its highest ever league position also poses its own problem, Clough added.

"If you drop off from that position then it is perceived as failure," he continued.

"It is brilliant in lots of ways, far better than fighting relegation, but in a lot of ways it would be easier if they were top 10 and looking to improve.

"Jimmy has done a remarkable job and it is just a matter of trying to keep it going."

Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough took his first Burton Albion training session at St George's Park on Monday

Clough, who remains Burton's longest-serving manager and takes the coaching staff of Gary Crosby and Andy Garner back to the club with him, said maintaining their lofty position will get harder.

"It is a fact that they are overachieving, but we are going to challenge the players to keep overachieving," he said.

"I think your best opportunity, sometimes, in a new league is the first season when you can take teams by surprise. I think Burton have done that.

"The second half of the season gets harder as well because they have all seen you once and everyone works you out a little.

"It is about building on strengths that they have, which is that defensive solidity."