Brian Clough 1935 – 2004

Sadly, Brian Clough died yesterday. As a Nottingham Forest fan, he obviously meant a great deal to me from a football perspective, simply for what he achieved with the club. It would appear that 30 years after he first took charge at Forest, they have returned to where they were before him – a bog standard second class team.

It was also his life which has fascinated me. I usually steer well clear of sports biographies, but made an exception for Clough’s two excellent books. The bragging is there, of course, but his achievements were remarkable. He is a candidate for a posthumous knighthood, it is a scandal that he didn’t receive one in his lifetime.

After his disastrous spell at Leeds United (where he told the star studded squad on his first day that all their achievements were meaningless, because they had been won by cheating) many have said that Clough couldn’t handle big stars and that therefore he wouldn’t have been a successful manager of England. Nonsense. If the superstars wouldn’t play his way, he wouldn’t have picked them! He’d have assembled an England squad made of his kind of player, and rather than have a rag-bag of big name players, he would have forged a team from rough diamonds, as he did at Forest and Derby.

Anyway, rest in peace, Cloughie. You’ve earned it.