Thursday, 26 March 2009

New found respect for Clough

Anyone else see the doucmentary about Brian Clough last?

Shown to coincide with the release of the film "The Damned United", I held out the hope that it would be a much truer picture of the life and times of Clough, rather than just a promo for the film, which has been rather liberal with the truth to say the least.

I wasn't disappointed.

I was always aware of the legend that was Brian Clough, but it was always in the back of my mind. As a football fan of a certain age my first memories of the man were as boss of a Forest side destined for relegation from the newly formed Premier League. Times had changed and Cloughs aging face showed the strain of decades of football management - as well as the clear signs of a drink problem.

It was not really the fitting end that Clough deserved, and I hope this documentary will go some way towards re-dressing the balance, especially to those of a certain generation.

You only have to look at Derby and Forest now to appreciate what he did. And listening to the players who played under him speak, he conveyed a fierce loyalty I have never seen with other managers. You got the opinion they would do anything just to recieve praise from the man. "I would walk the Sahara to work for him," was one memorable quote.

It seems a shame that his uncompromising and outspoken attitude scared the stiff suits at the FA so much they refused to give him the England job. If he were around today I think he would be the perfect man to give the current crop of pampered footballers a severe kick up the arse.

All this of course is with some rose-tinted specs on, I'm sure there are plenty of people who, with good reason, thought was a arrogant, smug and thoroughly dislikable person.

But you can't argue with the stats - plus he had some of the best one-liners when chatting with journos. My favourite one in the documentary being the chat with a female Swedish reporter ahead of the European Cup final with Malmo:

Clough: " well, what do you think will happen, being Swedish."
Slightly bemused Swedish Journo: "err...may the best team win?"
Clough: "That's right, good girl."


What made it funnier was that he was stood there in a pair of shorts with no top off like a British tourist in Benidorm.

Of course the domestic game has changed from Clough's day almost beyond recognition. With the gap in finances now between the top 4 and the rest it is almost impossible for anyone to replicate Clough's achievements, and turn a failing, lower division side into the kings of Europe - twice. But his abilites and achievements shouldn't be underestimated.

To quote any grandparent across the land:

"They don't make 'em like they used to."

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