Thursday, March 1, 2012

Focus On : Brian Clough "The Greatest Manager"

  How many Football League managers can deliver a one-liner as pithily as Groucho Marx? How many have bought their own advertising space around the ground and ordered another board, placed strategically alongside one of the goals, politely requesting: "Gentleman - no swearing please" to push a message across to the terraces? How many are doggedly pursued by television and newspapers to parley on the Government, the National Health Service or whatever issues dominate the day? And who could command such loyalty that even an invitation from the Football Association, shortlisting him as a candidate to take charge of England, could provoke a shrewdly worded response from the supporters. This time the sign, placed directly in front of his dug out read: "Brian - No leaving please, The Gentleman." The man himself has talked people out of suicide. He has talked to raise money to buy wheelchairs; and since he has never been reluctant to say exactly But then no manager is as essentially unconventional as Brian Clough. The extraordinary, iconoclastic Clough has been everywhere, done virtually everything, and nearly won the lot. He is a distinct one-off.

He happens to listen to Frank Sinatra records while writing out his team sheet (sometimes even singing along); he brings his dog to work; he acts as drinks waiter to the laundry ladies; he is almost permanently dressed in track suit bottoms (which occasionally he rolls up to his knees) and a loose-fitting green sweat shirt. He is splendidly unpretentious and refers to himself uncharitably as 'Big Head". Most importantly of all, he has proved himself the best manager in the business time and again. The fact that England did not have the sense to appoint him to the post for which he has always been the people's choice is something for which Nottingham Forest ought to be eternally grateful. He wrote the original book on the art of football management and the notches on the trophy cabinet explain why his arrival, in January 1975, was the turning point so far as the City Ground was concerned. Two League Championships (one of which was with Derby County), two European Cups (he interrupted a family holiday in Crete to win the first) two League Cups, an FA Cup semi final and a reputation for being able to defy even the longest, most daunting odds bear testimony to what the charismatic Clough has achieved as one of the central figures in the domestic game over the last twenty years, more than three quarters of them spent at Forest. 

The avuncular Billy Walker was responsible for the only other milestone capable of matching those created by Clough. In 21 years as manager, Walker, at almost 62, crowned what turned out to be his penultimate season before retirement by capturing the FA Cup for the third time in his career. What is more, he did it with ten men for almost an hour of an unforgettably tense final. The memory of that extraordinary May afternoon at Wembley in 1959 had to sustain Forest for almost two decades until you know who happened along. The breath of fresh air philosophy of Johnny Carey, an urbane, pipe-smoking figure was succinct. "Fizz it about," preached the gentle Carey, and Forest did, through Ian Moore, Joe Baker, Terry Hennessey, the indefatigable Bob McKinlay, et al, and came within four points of winning the Championship and also narrowly lost an FA Cup semi-final in the same season. The promise of the squad adroitly assembled by the softly-spoken manager petered out and Carey was sacked in 1968 when Forest lay joint bottom of the First Division. Carey was non-plussed about the decision - "It doesn't make sense to me." he said, quietly - but typically remained a gentleman to the end. He cleared out his office, promising to improve his golf handicap. "By kind permission of Forest, I now have plenty of time to do it."

Apart from the glittering jewel of Wembley and the so near, yet so far Carey era, Forest had been more familiar with failure than success before Clough. The bare statistics were hardly shattering: formed in 1865; took root at the City Ground (after five different homes) in 1899; and FA Cup winners a year earlier when Derby were skilfully taken apart in front of a 60,000 gate at Crystal Palace. What followed over the next half century was a frustrating string of seasons where relegation followed agonisingly hard on the heels of promotion or when Forest could do no more than consolidate: Second Division Champions 1907; relegated 1911; Second Division winners again 1922; relegated three years later; relegated once more 1949; promotion from Division Three as champions 1951; promotion to Division One (as runners-up) in 1957. By the time Clough took over - his fourth club in 15 months - Forest were once more in a parlous position; buried in the nether regions of the Second Division and drifting towards the Third. The club had suffered relegation (in 1972, ironically the season in which Clough and assistant manager Peter Taylor were steering Derby County to the Championship) and had gone through three other managers post-Carey (Matt Gillies, Dave MacKay and Allan Brown, all Scots) before Clough clocked in, courtesy of a lack of patience from Leeds United. Clough's reign at Elland Road had lasted only 44 days, before he was abruptly sacked, scarcely having time to find the gents cloakroom, let alone reshape the then League Champions. 

 Fortunately Clough still lived in Derby and so the move to the City Ground was made-to-measure. It offered him both employment and the chance to prove a few folk spectacularly wrong. The City Ground was as logical a destination both for Taylor - even though it took until July 1976 to lever him away from Brighton - and for Jimmy Gordon. Taylor, born in the Meadows, came home. Gordon, unfailingly buoyant, was not only automatic choice as coach but he also happened to be Clough's first signing. After reaching a third successive League Cup final, the tribute to Gordon was in unselfishly pushing him down the tunnel to lead Forest out at Wembley, the clearest example of the esteem Clough and Taylor held for him as a coach capable of communicating their ideas with the minimum of fuss. The stock phrase from Clough about how the remarkable, pioneering partnership with Taylor functioned was succinct: "I'm the front window - he's the goods at the back." On that basis, the sign above the store ought to have read: Clough & Taylor, Master Builders Ltd. What the pair achieved at Forest and Derby, with a distinct style and formula others even now vainly strive to copy, was built from nothing. The alliance was unique and not only because of the amount of silver polish Forest unexpectedly had to order between 1978 and 1980. No other management team has been as successful. "There's no secret," said Clough, "Except hard work and talent - and I'm not kidding." Clough and Taylor lent each other moral support, relied on one another's judgment, wheeled and dealed in the transfer market and together had the alchemists touch for 17 seasons, six of them at Forest. Describing his partner, Clough said: "He sees things 24 hours before I do," and he has forever maintained that, apart from Eric Morecambe, only Taylor's sense of humour was capable of making him cry with laughter.

At its peak, the Clough-Taylor-Forest bandwagon was unstoppable. "It got so good that had I told Brian we should sign Arthur Scargill, I honestly think he would have replied that we could do it there and then," said Taylor. There was a discipline and dash about Forest. Starting with the modest, low-profile Anglo-Scottish Cup, then promotion, Wembley, the League Championship and Europe, Forest dominated the landscape both at home and abroad. Along the way, Clough and Taylor sat side-by-side, sharing the credit, through a 42 match unbeaten run in the First Division, a feat never likely to be surpassed: a Charity Shield; two FA Cup quarter-finals; two Super Cups; the buying and selling of £1m players, notably the mould-breaking transfer of Trevor Francis, as well as lightning fast trip to Tokyo (32 hours of flying in four exhausting days) for a World Club Championship final. Champagne became the staple diet for Forest as one success followed another. Sustaining it was more difficult. Those heady days passed by so rapidly that even when the City Ground was attracting gates of substantially more than 30,000, when Wembley was almost automatically written into the fixture list at the beginning of every August and when Europe -stretching from Madrid to Munich and beyond - more or less became a suburb of Nottingham, the real scale of what had happened was, at times, never fully appreciated by a large proportion of the public Clough and Taylor were catering for. Until, of course, the trophies dried up. For the manager who had reigned supreme, Clough was suddenly caught in the unlikely position of having to prove himself all over again when Taylor decided to retire, prematurely as it turned out, in 1982 because of the "mental and physical strain". The widely-held assumption was that Ctough would soon follow him (particularly after a health-scare of his own four months earlier). The theory was wrong. 

 The sequel to Taylor's departure was the sight of Clough, head down, reconstructing his squad on limited resources and digging Forest out of a potentially crippling financial hole. That he managed it and created a new, eloquent team in the process merely adds to the legend. What irks him most these days is frequent specualtion that he is about to quit, a lot of it fuelled for no other reason than his reluctance to commit himself too far into the future. In truth, Clough's motivation is as strong as ever, a point strengthened only last season by his response to being brutally written off before a ball was even kicked and his readiness to become part-time manager of Wales before the World Cup. Using one of his favourite phrases, Clough dismisses the stories about retirement as being "too daft to laugh at" and asks "What would I do?" He even answers the question himself: "I don't know anything apart from my own industry. I like cricket and gardening -but I'm not at the stage of life yet when I want to spend all my time cutting the grass, pottering around the greenhouse or sitting in a deckchair on the boundary. In my case, retirement means not coming back." When he does eventually go, the game will be a lot duller. Whatever he decides in the coming seasons, expect Brian Clough to do the unexpected....

Itv DVdrip

Part 1 : Main Movie :

Part 2 : A Calendar Special :

Part 3 : Barbara Clough On Meeting brian :

Part 4 : Nigel Clough Talk about his dad :

Part 5 : Clough Revie Interview :

2009 marks the 30th anniversary of  Nottingham Forest’s first European Cup triumph, masterminded by Brian Clough. A provincial football club broke and slipping towards Football League Division Three when he took charge, had conquered England and Europe inside three years. He achieved many great things with the clubs he managed, most notably Derby County and Nottingham Forest which would be considered impossible and unthinkable now. Clough would probably disagree but he was more than just a football manager. This programme offers a fascinating insight into one of the most famous names in the world of football, legendary manager Brian Clough. Narrated by Pete Postlethwaite, the documentary follows his career from Derby County to Leeds United and Nottingham Forest, charting his immediate impact on the beautiful game and the legacy he left in his wake. Featuring exclusive interviews with those who knew 'Old Big'ead' best, including friends and former colleagues, and of course his wife Barbara and son Nigel, plus plenty of glorious archive footage of the man at his most charismatic.

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