AS the Brewers head to Old Trafford tomorrow night Nigel Clough says the two FA Cup ties against Manchester United in 2006 were pivotal in Burton’s Albion’s development.
Albion play Jose Mourinho’s side in the Carabao Cup Third Round, the first meeting between the two clubs since the epic Third Round FA Cup ties of January 2006 when the Brewers earned a replay after a 0-0 draw at the Pirelli Stadium.
Clough said: “Playing Manchester United at home and then getting the replay is singularly the most important thing in helping the club progress. The financial rewards as a Conference club from those two games really built a solid foundation.”
The Brewers had just moved from Eton Park to the Pirelli Stadium that season, a major investment for a small non-league club.
Clough said: “We needed the new stadium but with all the best will in the world building projects go over budget and we were going to be carrying a debt for the foreseeable future. But we were able to get that tie, pay off the debt and the club has been debt-free ever since. That has enabled the club to make the strides it has.
“We were able to sign a few players as well; Daryl Clare came in and he raised the bar for us being one of the top goal scorers in non-league and we went from strength to strength.”
Clough has one abiding memory of that 0-0 draw with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in 2006.
He said: “The outstanding memory is the game here and 59 minutes on the clock and Ronaldo and Rooney coming on and having to face over 30 minutes with those two up front . . . and surviving.”
Now he takes his Brewers side back to one of the most famous grounds in world football.
He said: "Now it certainly is a special week, going to Old Trafford again. If you look at the transformation of the club since the last time we played them as a part-time Conference side, we are only one league below them now, a million miles in lots of other ways but in terms of league status to be only one league below Manchester United in a relatively short space of time in football terms, it's remarkable what the club has done.”