BURTON Albion chairman Ben Robinson says Nigel Clough was up against it trying to get Derby County to the Premier League on one of the Championship’s smallest budgets.
The Brewers chairman, who reaped the benefits of giving Clough time to work during his 10-year spell in charge at Burton, says the 47-year-old worked wonders at Pride Park.
Clough was sacked on Saturday, with Steve McClaren taking over as manager.
“When Nigel was appointed in 2009, I would imagine the wage bill was in excess of £18 million and part of his job initially was to cut that back significantly,” said the chairman.
“Now, I would imagine it is under £9m, so he’s reduced it by 50 per cent.
“Any club assessing their manager’s performance will always look and ask if the team’s results match the financial investment in the squad.
“It’s a tough ask for any manager getting out of the Championship into the Premier League on that sort of budget when you compare that with the likes of, for example, Leicester and Forest, whom I understand have first-team budgets in excess of £20m.
“Added to that, Derby are competing against the clubs coming out of the Premier League, who will be receiving parachute payments of something like £14m per season.”
Robinson says Clough will have wanted to finish off the job at Derby and taken them to the top flight again.
“I really feel for Nigel because he started the job,” he said.
“He turned the club’s financial fortunes around in terms of the first-team sustainability.
“It’s really disappointing he’s not been given the opportunity to finish the job.
“As an individual, his honesty and integrity is unquestionable – he’s a consummate professional.
“He’s a very loyal person and hence I never heard him whinge or mention any negatives about the job at Derby.
“When we worked together at Burton over all those years, he was very, very careful with how he spent our money – he was very judicious and treated it like it was his own.”