“When I go, God’s going to have to give up his favourite chair.”
Brian Clough was a rude, arrogant, patently offensive, bitter and angry alcoholic.
He was also one of the greatest football managers of all time.
During his playing career, Clough was a freescoring forward for Middlesbrough and Sunderland, notching an incredible 251 goals in 274 appearances for both clubs. However his career was cruelly cut short by injury, forcing him to take up the reigns as manager at a young age. Hartlepool were his first port of call and there he nurtured the skills that would lead him to League title glory with Derby and Nottingham Forest as well as the incredible feat of back to back European Cup triumph’s for Forest in 1979 and 1980.
The best thing about Cloughie however was his no-nonsense approach to things. He wasn’t an advocate of political correctness and even his players were seldom spared his wrath.
Turned down for the England job in favour of Rob Greenwood, that single FA decision has been subject to criticism time and time again. While Clough was the outstanding candidate, he recognised why the FA didn’t want him in such a powerful position;
“I’m sure the England selectors thought if they took me on and gave me the job, I’d want to run the show. They were shrewd, because that’s exactly what I would have done.”
Clough also knew his value stating;
“I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business, but I was in the top one”
His latter years were marked with a tragic descent into alcoholism, albeit punctuated with the occasional moment of the true Cloughie shining through, such as the time he raged onto the pitch to clout invading Forest fans across the ear, or remarked about the pale, thin Nottingham Forest midfielder Brian Rice;
“I’m not saying he’s pale and thin, but the maid on our hotel room pulled back the sheets and remade the bed without realising he was still in in it”
Clough’s greatest legacy is what he achieved not once, but twice with a small midlands club. Taking them to the pinnacle of English soccer and eventually to Champions of Europe. Clough did it his own way and in his own style. He didn’t care if you liked him or not, but he got results. The biggest mistake the FA made was not appointing him England manager (and that goes some to beat Steve McLaren’s appointment). A giant of a man. A true legend.