Date: 24th December 2011 at 2:12pm
Written by:

It`s Christmas and for most of us that means driving home for Christmas, getting together with family members we`d rather forget about, cries from the kids of “daddy’s drinking up our Christmas” or “grandma got run over by a reindeer”, eating and drinking too much and then worrying about that credit card bill that drops on the doormat in January. I don`t think you`ll ever hear anyone say “I wish it could be Christmas every day”.

Thank goodness then for Boxing Day football and the opportunity to get away from family and stand with a few thousand like-minded souls for a couple of hours in the freezing cold.

Last Christmas we were at home to Shrewsbury, but this season it`s a case of I won`t be home for Christmas; instead we are faced with the sixty-mile trip down to Northampton Town for our meeting with the Cobblers at the Sixfields Stadium.

Writing this the night before Christmas, there`s not a great deal of team news around right now, but as luck would have it Northampton, in the depths of an alarming slump, have recently removed Gary Johnson as manager, replacing him with Aidy Boothroyd. For the Northampton faithful it is a case of Happy Xmas, war is over, as there was more of a hint of dissent coming from them towards Johnson, but it remains to be seen what effect Boothroyd can have on the team in the short-term. In his first two games the new man at the helm started off with a 1-1 draw at home to Crewe, then last weekend, as Burton were struggling to get a point off of Dagenham and Redbridge, Northampton went down 2-0 at Oxford United. That defeat left them in 22nd place, three points clear of the relegation zone.

As you`d expect with a new manager there has been something of a clear out of the playing squad already, and Chris Arthur, Bas Savage and Ashley Westwood have already been shown the door. Coming in has been goalkeeper Shane Higgs, most memorable for a ten-year period spent with Cheltenham Town, although his last club was Leeds United who he left in the summer. Whether the new keeper, who is set to make his debut against us, can bring joy to the world, or even just to his little corner of Northamptonshire, remains to be seen. The club has also had three bids rejected for Kidderminster Harriers forward Jamile Matt, so the rebuilding looks like it has only just started.

One old boy on show will be Lewis Young wearing a Northampton shirt. Lewis of course spent last season with us and never truly convinced, and a loan spell spent largely on the bench for a then struggling Forest Green Rovers seemed to suggest he wouldn`t be with us for more than a year. As expected Lewis was shown the door by Paul Peschisolido and moved on to Northampton where, injury excepting, he has found himself in and around the first team more often. Here`s hoping his crossing hasn`t improved since Morecambe away last season?.

For Burton the greatest gift of all could be a starting place for Billy Kee, who may well be put back into the side at the expense of a still-rusty Justin Richards. With most of the midfield having seriously underperformed last weekend it could turn out to be feliz navidad for Andres Gurrieri, and possibly a happy holiday for Chris Palmer, whose creativity and attacking play was sorely missed last time out. Someone is missing at Christmas, namely Tony James who is set to miss out again through injury, which means that the central pairing of fellow psychos, Ryan Austin and Nathan Stanton, looks set to continue. Here`s hoping that Stanton in particular doesn`t become a liability and go nuttin` for Christmas. He really needs to start concentrating on what is happening on the pitch, not up in the stands, as he was exposed time and again by a poor Dagenham team last weekend. Darren Moore and Adi Yussuf are apparently fit again, but it is unlikely we`ll be seeing them run out tomorrow.

So a perfect Christmas is in store for Burton Albion on Monday, but as with all games against lower-placed opposition this season you just know they are going to make it difficult for themselves. The opportunity is there for another away win, but whether the team collectively decide “let`s make Christmas mean something this year” remains to be seen.

Given past form against teams fighting for their lives we are going for a 2-2 draw. Then it`s a case of what are you doing for New Year`s Eve as we prepare ourselves for the haul up to Morecambe and yet another difficult away match. If we make it through December with seven points from all of our games I`ll be a happy little Brewer.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas!