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Football News: And Finally... Brian Clough

And Finally... Brian Clough
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And Finally.....Brian Clough

 

I have done And Finally... articles on two of the greatest characters ever to grace the English game, in Alex Ferguson and Bill Shankly. It makes sense to do the third huge character that's shadow still looms large over the game and, in particular, the club he is most associated with, Nottingham Forest. Forest have never been able to recreate the success they had under Clough. Yet.

Sadly Clough developed a drink problem later in his career which was used, despicably, by Dean Saunders to create a fake anecdote, a complete lie, about Clough, in order to boost his career as an after dinner speaker. Saunders made up a story about how a drunken Clough had tried to sign him for Forest for a transfer record fee and then told it live on national radio, to the delight of the hosts, despite knowing full well it was untrue. A horrible attempt to cash in on the legacy of a great manager's reputation.

Roy Keane was possibly Clough's last signing of real genius, after Forest paid £47,000 for him from Cobh Ramblers. Even Keane was not immune to criticism, or more, from Clough when he failed to listen to the man in the green jumper. Keane admitted in his autobiography that Clough once put him on his backside following an error: "When I walked into the dressing room after a game, Clough punched me straight in the face. 'Don't pass the ball back to the goalkeeper,' he screamed as I lay on the floor, him standing over me. I was hurt and shocked, too shocked to do anything but nod my head in agreement. My honeymoon with Clough and professional football was over." Clough says of it: "I only ever hit Roy the once. He got up so I couldn't have hit him very hard."

Even Clough did not always get things right, there was his difficult period with Leeds United, where he never managed to win over the players or fans in a 44 day spell in charge. His fallout with Peter Taylor led to his demise as a great, but he also had an Achilles' heel when it came to injuries. Most people believe that to be because his own playing career was cut short by a knee injury but, whatever the reason he did struggle with injuries to his players. When a young Darren Wassall complained of a hand injury at half-time in a reserves game v Rotherham, Clough spat on it, gave it a rub and said: "That's better now." Wassall was unimpressed and put in a transfer request.

While Clough is often remembered for his temper, not just the punch on Keane, but his reaction to a pitch invasion was to wade in and started throwing his fists around punching a couple of Forest fans, but he had a soft side too. You do not create such great teams by just throwing your weight around, you have to know when to put your arm around someone as well. Clough knew that, on and off the pitch. He once received an award after he came to the rescue of a man man perched on the side of the Trent Bridge about to commit suicide. Clough had been driving across when he witnessed the incident and, when police efforts to talk the man down failed, Clough stepped in and a quick 5-minute chat coaxed the man down.

One thing Clough was not known for was mincing his words, after one disappointing result towards the end of his time with Forest he told Yorkshireman goalkeeper Mark Crossley to "buy a house in Nottingham or f**k off and play for Barnsley!" Clough was apparently not too impressed with Lee Chapman either, who revealed that Clough approached him during a training session just after his signing and asked him who he was. Chapman told him that he was a new signing that he had just paid half a million pounds for. Clough's reply was, "why? You're crap!"

When Sven Goran Eriksson was appointed as manager of England, he said: "At last we've appointed a manager who speaks better English than the players." He was also not afraid to blow his own trumpet, saying once, "the River Trent is lovely, I know because I have walked on it for 18 years." He also said of Frank Sinatra: "Ah yes, Frank Sinatra, he met me once y'know?" On disagreements with players he said: "We talk about it for twenty minutes and then we decide I was right." He did show some modesty about his abilities though when he said: "I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one."

What cannot be denied about Clough was his insistence on discipline amongst his players, they were simply not allowed to harangue officials in the way many modern teams do. I can remember Clough appearing on a late-night sports show where he was asked by the host what he would have done if Roy Keane had done something or other, I think it was a stamp if I remember correctly. Clough dismissed the question by simply saying that Keane would never have done that if he was still playing for Clough. When Forest player Johnny Metgod raked Peter Beardsley's shins but the referee missed it, Clough hauled him off, gave him a ticking off and made him apologise to Beardsley.

Clough was a lot of things, but what cannot be denied is that he was a great manager, who picked up 2 European Cups with a Forest side that was never at the same level before or since his time. What he did stands comparison with anyone and the fact he did it with a team that played good football in a fair way is a big part of why he will never be forgotten, particularly by Forest fans.

Written by Tris Burke May 01 2019 11:12:13

 

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