Brian Clough: Modern game would have dismayed dad, says Nigel

The wit and wisdom of football legend Brian Clough

Nigel Clough says his late father Brian would have been a success in the modern game, but "dismayed and flabbergasted" by the money-men and agents.

It is 10 years since legendary manager Clough died from cancer, aged 69.

"He still would have been incredibly successful," he told BBC Radio 5 live's Pat Murphy.

"But there's an obscene amount of money in the game and I think the final straw would have been that there are ex-agents getting involved running clubs."

He added: "Some of the owners and people in charge - the gentleman that's gone in at Leeds now, the last manager (Dave Hockaday) probably only lasted a bit longer than my dad's 44 days."

Speaking on the eve of the anniversary, son Nigel talked about:

  • Comparisons between his dad and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
  • How he could not have moved up to boardroom level like Sir Alex Ferguson

Clough is considered as one of the most successful and respected managers of all time, winning successive European Cups with Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980, and also the League with Forest and Derby.

He was just as well known for his colourful, sometimes cocky approach. It is widely thought the Football Association considered him too much of a risk to employ as England manager.

Brian Clough factfile
1935: Born in Middlesbrough
1955: Playing debut for Boro, goes on to win two England caps
1962: Quits aged 29 because of a knee injury, after scoring 251 goals in 274 games
1963: Begins management career at Fourth Division Hartlepool
1967: Becomes Derby boss, appointing Peter Taylor as his assistant
1972: Wins first league title
1974: Disastrous 44-day reign at Leeds United
1975: Joins Nottingham Forest
1977: Promoted to the top Division
1978: Wins league title
1979: Lifts European Cup as Forest beat Malmo 1-0
1980: Retains European Cup with victory over Hamburg
1989: Wins League Cup at Forest and repeats the feat 12 months later
1993: Leaves Forest after club is relegated from the Premier League
2004: Dies aged 69 from stomach cancer

On comparisons with Mourinho

Clough says success allowed his father to be outspoken and feels the same is true of Chelsea boss Mourinho. But he revealed that behind the confident exterior, his dad experienced many moments of self-doubt.

"If you have success then you can say and do the sort of things my dad did," said Clough.

"Mourinho does a similar sort of thing, and when you have won trophies at the highest level then you can say certain things.

"There are similarities and there's a certain brashness about how they go about their jobs - a self-confidence.

"I don't know if that goes all the way through Jose or if it's a bit of a show. Every manager and certainly my dad had a lot of moments of self-doubt."

He joked: "One thing my dad said was that he was better looking than Mourinho, but I don't think he could claim to be."

Brian Clough
Fans at the City Ground remember Brian Clough during the Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Derby County earlier this month

On Clough as a director

Sir Alex Ferguson moved to the boardroom after his long spell in charge of Manchester United, but Clough is certain his father would never have done such a thing.

"When he retired from Forest [in 1993], he didn't want to haunt the next manager Frank Clark," he added.

"There was a lot made last year of Sir Alex Ferguson being around when [successor] David Moyes was struggling and whether that was a help or hindrance.

"I don't know, but my dad wanted to divorce himself from that. Being in the boardroom would have been a step too far for him."

If Clough had been England manager

The FA never dared give Clough a chance to manage the national team. If they had, says his son, it would have been "fascinating".

"The clashes with the FA probably would have been too frequent and meant it wouldn't have lasted," said Clough.

"But if he'd had success maybe they'd have had to bend and change a little bit.

"Sir Alf Ramsey won the World Cup and my dad had an awful lot of respect for him, but we haven't won it since."

On 'cheats' in football

Clough says his father "abhorred" the infamous Leeds team of the 1970s, who were renowned for their physical approach and ability to intimidate opponents, and had no time for those who didn't win the right way.

"He didn't like cheating of any kind whether it was on a football pitch, on a training pitch or anything," he said.

"He used to work with genuine and honest players. If he brought someone in and they wouldn't change, he wasn't averse to admitting his mistakes. He would have moved them on.

"He wanted to win more than anyone, but didn't want to win by cheating."

A phrase to sum Clough up

"I read that one of the phrases Billy Connolly uses is: 'Times may change, but standards must remain'. I think he got it off an After Eight advert. But I can see my dad using something like that.

"He would have been nearly 80 if he was still around and he would have still been a cantankerous so and so at times.

"But those standards he was brought up with and tried to instil in others would have still been along those lines."

Listen to the full interview on 5 live on Friday, 19 September from 21:00 BST.

Brian Clough and Terry Venables
Clough and Tottenham manager Terry Venables lead the teams out hand in hand at Wembley before the 1991 FA Cup final
Derby County's team photo for the 1972-73 season
Clough (top left), who twice won the Division One title while Derby County manager, is pictured prior to the 1972/73 season with the reigning English champions
Brian Clough and Peter Taylor
Clough and assistant Peter Taylor in the dugout during the 1979 European Cup Final between Nottingham Forest and Malmo
Brian Clough
Clough in charge of Forest in November 1973, when benches really were benches
Brian and Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough with his father Brian, pictured with the FA Cup at a primary school in Burton-on-Trent in 2003