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In The Top One: Was Brian Clough The Best English Manager Of All Time

October 08, 2015

- Grant Whittington

Measuring greatness in any field can be a difficult task especially when making comparisons between different generations of players or competitors in the field of sport. So when it comes to deciding just who is or was the greatest English football manager of all time you might think it would be a tricky task. However it’s fairly obvious who would be on the shortlist and in many football fans eyes spanning across generations the late great Brian Clough would certainly be up there.

In 1967 Clough, after two years at Hartlepools United, began his journey to greatness joining Second Division side Derby County. He spent several seasons with the club helping to promote them to the First Division and to even win the title for the first time ever in the clubs history. During his final year with Derby in 1973 he helped them to the semi-finals of the European Cup, where unfortunately they lost out to Italian side Juventus, but well and truly put Brian Clough on the map.

After turning around the fortunes of the Rams, the now flourishing manager moved to Nottingham Forest, another Second Division side, after spending an infamous 44 days with Leeds United. The question was could he help Forest back in to the top flight? The underachieving club appointed Clough in 1975 and within a year and a half he had managed to help the red and white army climb back into the First Division thanks to a promotable third place finish. And it only took another season for the side to win the league making them the most recent team to actually win the English First Division Championship just one year after winning promotion into it.

Whilst league success was clear, Clough was desperate once more to help lead a successful team through European competition. And it didn’t take him long to do so as Nottingham Forest managed to win the European Cup back-to-back in 1979 and 1980, the only two times the club has ever managed to do so. It was an incredible achievement for the side and of course the plaudits went to this charismatic character.

It was obvious that Clough’s impact and influence had helped these clubs achieve so many great triumphs over the years and his managing style has since been admired and been copied by many others looking to replicate the success. Clough was an iconic figure in the footballing world not just through his successes but through his opinions, views, and managerial techniques. He would be able to bring the very best out of players, players that were ordinary and seemingly average. He could bring a team together and discipline was at the heart of his management style. Something that allowed Forest to go for a record 42 unbeaten matches between November 1977 and December 1978, an impressive record that stood for 25 long years.

The game may have changed dramatically since his day but not many could argue against him being able to compete against some of the biggest teams around today.

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