Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Clough junior's impossible job

It’s nigh on impossible if you’re any sort of football supporter not to be moved a tad in some strange way by Nigel Clough taking up the reins as manager of Derby County, and in doing so, following his extremely talented, famous, and of course stone bonkers dad, Brian. By the time Jumpthefence was growing up, Brian Clough was a bit of an eccentric manager who we knew mainly for wearing green jumpers on the sideline at Notts Forest and introducing Roy Keane to top level football. Oh, what we missed out on, and in ways it was only on reading David Peace’s wonderful book, the Damned United, a couple of years back, that Clough’s achievements hit us.

Rightly enough it was different times, but Clough took Derby County from the second tier division to winning the title and making the semis of the European Cup in five seasons, an incredible odyssey in days it was impossible to “buy” a league ala Chelsea or Man City’s current attempts. Then to prove it was no fluke, he did the same with Notts Forest, winning the league, two European Cups and putting together a lovely, fluent side of footballers. He got the absolute best from almost every player he managed in those days (with the exception of his 44 days at Leeds of course) and made stars of a pile of average-to-decent footballers. He was batty obviously, but the man clearly had something about him that worked.

Imagine the sort of work his young fella would have to do to match Clough’s legacy; imagine the plaudits for promoting Derby, then winning the league, then reaching the semis of the Champions League. Impossible. But we can’t help root a tiny bit for the younger Clough to do well.

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