Brian Clough, a master of bombast and king of quirky one-liners, always held the media spellbound, but the scale of his influence is better conveyed in his prominence now than it ever was when he was alive.
Clough has been the subject of countless biographies, a novel and the film made from it. He won two European Cups with a provincial club and steered Derby County from the middle of the Second Division to the top of the First. He is, supposedly, the best manager the English national team never had.
In recent times, though, the media has concerned itself more with Clough’s most notable failure – his infamous 44-day stint as manager of Leeds United. David Peace’s The Damned United famously novelizes that ill-fated spell, portraying Clough as an enigmatic and self-destructive obsessive, haunted by the successes of his predecessor. Peace’s short, abrupt sentences are intended to mirror Clough’s thinking. While entertaining to read, that approach to understanding Clough is flawed. It casts him as a caricature, an exaggerated parody of a manager who, while eccentric, was always as human as the next man.