It would be crazy, right? For Brian Clough to even attempt to manage in the current era? Go with me here, I’m talking about peak Brian Clough being transported in time and dropped into the world we live in today. And could he be successful?
The odds would surely be stacked in favour of a resounding NO – but I am not so sure, I reckon Cloughy would know the score.
You see, Brian Clough was different to everything else that was out there back in the late 60s, 1970s and early 80s.
And he’d be different to everything that’s out there today.
But one thing you cannot deny, he knew football and so did Peter Taylor his erstwhile assistant. And that is something that would pass the test of time.
I happen to think Clough’s management style would actually be very refreshing in the current world.
Let’s paint a pretend scenario – peak Brian Clough rocks up again at Nottingham Forest today.
The club has enough money to make the signings needed to get promotion, just that they’ve been signing the wrong ones for so many years!
But, with Peter Taylor‘s ability to scour the lower leagues for talent – just like he did for Clough at Derby and at Forest, you suspect he’d be able to find the players to bring in.
So that’s the scouting and recruitment side taken care of for sure.
What about tactics?
Legend tells us that Clough and Taylor didn’t bother with tactics to any great extent – focusing more on signing good players, pumping their tyres and letting them go out and play with an insistence on passing the ball (mainly to John Robertson when at Forest given he was their best player) and not arguing with the referee. Of course, this minimal level of tactical input doesn’t lead to European glory. Or does it?
Clough was adamant that tactics didn’t win matches but players did – something is hard to argue. Surely, signing the right players that can play together and giving them an environment to be successful is what you need? Rather than all this talk of inverted wingers or false 9s or double tens?
There is a theory that the whole boom of ‘tactics’ is to protect the coaches within the game – to make it seem so complicated it protects their position as the current style of person needed to be employed, unlike earlier eras when a ‘manager’ ran the club from top-to-bottom.
But what about Cloughy’s man-management style – would that still work?
Would the current generation of player be able to cope with Brian Clough’s wit, acid tongue and eccentricity?
Clough and Taylor were tough, sure – but they also had the ability to make players feel ten-foot tall. They knew which buttons to press but a lot of their beliefs were grounded in old-fashioned hard work, discipline and then keeping things fresh in and around the training ground and changing room so players never got too complacent.
Would any of those pillars be irrelevant in the modern game?
You’d hope not – and if they are, that doesn’t make Brian Clough wrong.
Would peak Clough be a top manager in the modern game?
You can bet your life he would be.