ROBBIE Weir says Burton Albion have “walked the walk” by living up to their tag as one of the promotion favourites at this early stage of the season.
The Brewers are still unbeaten in all competitions, with wins against Rochdale and Fleetwood Town as well as holding Cheltenham Town to a draw – three teams also expected to be sniffing around the League Two top seven come next May.
Add in beating League One side Sheffield United in the League Cup, and a Bass Vase final win over a strong Derby County side, and things could not have gone much better for Weir and Co.
The midfielder said: “We were one of the favourites for promotion, but that’s just talk.
“You can talk the talk, but we’ve walked the walk with the results we’ve had against Rochdale and Fleetwood.
“Teams will now sit back and say it’ll be a tough game either coming to Burton or if we’re going to them.
“They’ll look up to us more now.”
One of the most impressive elements of Albion’s early-season form has been their results on the road.
It may be a football cliché, but last season the Pirelli Stadium really was a fortress, with Gary Rowett’s side boasting the best home record across all four of the top divisions.
However, a record of 54 points from a possible 69 on their own turf was still not enough to claim automatic promotion, as they only won five games on their travels, and had the fifth worst away record in League Two.
“Last year our away record was a disgrace to be honest but I think now we’ve picked it up, with different lads and a better attitude,” said Weir.
“Coming away to places like this, sometimes it has to be ugly, it can’t all be pretty-pretty football.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to hook it into channels and run teams down.
“But if it’s getting us three points away from home, it doesn’t matter if it’s ugly.”
Weir has been running the show in the centre of the park in all of Albion’s games so far this campaign, and the Northern Ireland under-21 international has come in for some close, and often unwarranted attention from opponents.
However, he shrugged off incidents such as a short-lived running battle with Peter Cavanagh which led to a bloodied shirt for Weir and a red card for the Rochdale skipper.
“The tackles and stuff are just part of the game,” he said.
“Against Rochdale I got a cut on the eye and a bang on the hips but you just have to get on with it.”
Weir was also in the wars last Saturday against Fleetwood as his side raced into a 3-0 half-time lead before holding off a second-half fightback to claim a narrow 3-2 victory in the rain.
“The three points at Fleetwood were a great result as they were favourites to go up this year,” said Weir.
“In the first half I thought we dominated, and then they gave it a go – which is always going to happen – got their tails up but we saw the game out.
“When they got to 3-2 it kind of kicks in that they have got a chance of bringing it back or going on and winning it.
“But I thought the lads did well and defended well the whole game.
“The goals were stupid little individual mistakes, but they happen during a game over the course of a season.
“I thought I could have done better myself on the first goal.”
Albion’s second goal, scored by Adam McGurk from a corner, was straight off the training ground, and Weir admitted it was satisfying to see a practised move like that come off.
“We tried that in training and said ‘I don’t know if it’s going to work’ but obviously it’s come off,” he said.
“The gaffer spoke to us afterwards and said he was buzzing, so we got fish and chips for our reward.
“It was a brilliantly rehearsed corner.
“Kev Summerfield will have one or two more up his sleeve and hopefully they will come off as well.
“Kev does most of the set pieces so I think it was one of his, but if it’s not, the gaffer will let me know.”
The Brewers are back at the Pirelli tomorrow to face Bury, relegated from League One last season and not having made the best start to this campaign.
“We just need to continue on from where we left off last year, running teams into the ground with high tempo stuff like in the first half,” said Weir, who also praised the impact of former Stoke City man Rory Delap.
The veteran midfielder has converted to right-back for most of Albion’s games so far, adding solidity to the back-line, as well as bringing a new threat with those long throws.
“All the lads look up to him because he’s got that experience,” said Weir.
“You expect that from Rory, he’s been in the Premier League, and he just brings that maturity to League Two
“You can tell because he stands out.”