In Praise Of… Brian Clough

The unveiling of a new statue of Brian Clough in Nottingham last week seems like as good a time as any to to take a quick look back at the career of arguably English football’s greatest manager. It’s probably fair to say that the managerial achievements of Brian Clough will never be repeated again. He took two clubs from the middle of the Second Division to be the champions of England, and one of them went on to become back to back champions of Europe. Moreover, he went on to keep the second of these sides in the top division for a decade and a half afterwards while other, arguably bigger, clubs had to spend periods in the Second Division or lower. Brian Clough was always likely to become a manager. His playing career is often overlooked, but was exceptional in its own way. He scored 241 goals in 274 league matches for Sunderland and Middlesbrough before a cruciate ligament injury to his knee ended his career at the age of just twenty-seven. Such a goalscoring record was remarkable even for that time, and it’s plausible to say that, had he played at a bigger club, he could have achieved much more as a player. After three years out of the game, he took up management at Hartlepool United with Peter Taylor, and it would be his relationship with...

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