Clough had won the European Cup two years in a row with Forest
Clough couldn’t continue the spectacular success he enjoyed during his first few years at Forest, but the team remained a force in the top flight for the next ten years.
The breaking up of the European Cup winning team and Peter Taylor’s retirement in the early eighties made it more difficult for Clough but he rebuilt his team and went on to win another two League Cups in 1989 and 1990.
He also led the team to the finals of the FA Cup in 1991 and the League Cup in 1992 but on both occasions Forest were beaten.
Clough’s final year in football management was the first of the newly formed Premier League. Forest struggled all season and were relegated after finishing bottom.
Despite taking the club down, Clough was applauded and cheered by the Forest fans after his final game, a 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United in 1993.
The fans knew they had been lucky to have the greatest manager of the generation at their club and he had delivered the trophies and football they thought they could only dream of.
Always a story with Clough
Brian Clough was charismatic and entertaining throughout his career. Away from his abilities as a football manager, there was often a story within which he was at the centre.
Clough’s relationship with his long-time friend and assistant Peter Taylor ended on a sour note. Taylor had retired as Clough’s assistant in 1982 only to become Derby manager shortly after. When Taylor signed John Robertson from Forest behind his back, Clough never forgave him and the two never spoke again. Taylor died in 1990 and Clough attended his funeral and paid tribute to him in his autobiography and when he received the Freedom of the City in both Nottingham and Derby.
Clough was in charge of Nottingham Forest when they played Liverpool on the day of the tragic Hillsborough disaster. As a result of being so close to such a tragedy, Clough punched some of his own fans when they invaded the pitch after a game against QPR. Such was the authority and respect Clough commanded, when identified the fans apologised to Clough for going on “his pitch”.
During the seventies when Clough was at his most outspoken, Mohammed Ali famously looked into the camera and told Brian Clough to shut up, because everyone was talking about him instead of Mohammed Ali.
When in charge of England, Sir Bobby Robson offered to step down and allow “the people’s choice”, Brian Clough take charge of the team. This offer was declined by the FA and Clough is considered by many to be the greatest manager England never had. Clough claimed the FA was scared of him as they thought he would ignore them and do everything his own way, and he said they were right, he would’ve done.
Brian Clough died on 20th September 2004 from stomach cancer. There are statues of him in his home town, Middlesbrough, Nottingham and Derby. The stretch of the A52 that links Nottingham to Derby was renamed Brian Clough Way and Nottingham Forest renamed the biggest stand of their stadium The Brian Clough Stand after his death.
The secret of Clough’s success: Frank Clark
Clough didn’t change his tactics. He always played 4 4 2. He was a little more defensive in European games because he knew European teams were so comfortable on the ball and could hit you easily on the break. Apart from that, he didn’t worry about tactics.
Clough was great at putting square pegs in round holes. Sometimes a player such as a striker might be injured and there would be no obvious replacement. Other managers might shuffle lots of players around but not Brian. He would quite happily put a defender up front and tell them to do the best they could. His reasoning was that although that one player might be totally out of position, the rest of the team remained in their rightful places and so could stay solid.
This philosophy was put into practice when Frank Clark was Forest’s only sub and had to be sent on to replace a striker. Rather than shuffle the team around, Clough told Clark to play up front. That was quite a task for Clark who wasn’t comfortable on the ball and was known as a no-nonsense defender. Nevertheless, he played as a striker and scored the only goal of his career.