sport news GRAEME SOUNESS: Nottingham Forest could learn so much from the way Brian Clough ... trends now

sport news GRAEME SOUNESS: Nottingham Forest could learn so much from the way Brian Clough ... trends now
sport news GRAEME SOUNESS: Nottingham Forest could learn so much from the way Brian Clough ... trends now

sport news GRAEME SOUNESS: Nottingham Forest could learn so much from the way Brian Clough ... trends now

I have so many memories of encounters with Brian Clough, whose Nottingham Forest team had the sign over Liverpool for a few years, but the day we planned a £5 note trick on him sticks in my mind as much as any.

Clough had engendered an incredible fighting spirit in Forest at the time and there was a great deal of fear about his management style. I took it upon myself to go into a Liverpool joke shop and buy about a dozen of these devices which allowed you to attach a £5 or £10 note to a fishing line on a coil with a spring. 

You can't see the line, of course, so when your target goes to pick the note up, it springs back out their reach, leaving them looking ridiculous.

Boss Brian Clough won seven major trophies with Nottingham Forest between 1978 and 1990

Boss Brian Clough won seven major trophies with Nottingham Forest between 1978 and 1990

Four or five of us had these devices with us, as we walked into the City Ground to play Forest. I can't remember who all my accomplices were, though I imagine Terry McDermott would have been a key member of our hit squad. We were all going to put our money down and make Brian Clough look stupid.

His office was at the end of corridor you had to walk along to get the dressing room and we all placed our notes. We certainly weren't known for bottling things in that Liverpool team but we started to have second thoughts when Clough was about to emerge from his sanctuary and head for the Forest dressing room. 

We didn't go through with it! Our fivers were hastily retrieved and we made ourselves scarce. We were by no means the only ones who were slightly fearful of Brian Clough.

The Reds head coach (R) instilled a tenacity and fighting spirit to the dressing room at the club

The Reds head coach (R) instilled a tenacity and fighting spirit to the dressing room at the club

It's 18 years this week since Clough died and football is a different world now to the one when our team and his team went head to head - no quarter spared. We have directors of football, heads of scouting and recruitment committees. 

There's not a chance that Clough would have accepted any of them. He was a manager in the full meaning of the word. He managed and he controlled virtually every aspect of that football club. And he did all the talking.

CLOUGH AT FOREST

Appointed: January 6, 1975

Games managed: 994

Games won: 464

Games drawn: 263

Games lost: 267

Honours: First Division title (1977-78), European Cup (1978-79, 1979-80), League Cup (1977-78, 1978-79, 1988-89, 1989-90), Full Members Cup (1988-89, 1991-92), Charity Shield (1978), European Super Cup (1979), Anglo-Scottish Cup (1976-77) 

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It's hard to imagine him operating at the modern Forest. No sooner had Steve Cooper completed the incredible job of taking the team from the foot of the Championship to the Premier League inside eight months, their excitable owner Evangelos Marinakis was declaring the club had to be 'ready for trophies.' 

I suspect Clough would have been telling Marinakis to calm down and leave the football sphere to him.

I'm not sure how much say Cooper would have had in the decision to bring 22 players in this summer. If I had been Cooper and Marinakis had told me, 'I'm going to spend £150million on 22 players', I would have said, 'Spend that money on six or seven top players.'

I know they had a lot of players on loan last season but 22? In one summer? I would very much doubt that that has ever happened before at major league in world football. It's too many and just not conducive to being a successful football club.

Without the power that Clough wielded, it's difficult for Cooper to exert the control that we saw when Forest were promoted as the Second Division's third placed team in 1977. Back then, they immediately won the First Division title and then lifted the European Cup twice. For me, that's still the greatest achievement in British football.

Cooper would just not have had the time to look at all those signings because of the relentless job of preparing Forest for two games a week - every week - in the Championship. I actually doubt he'd have put his name to more than a handful.

Clough poses with his assistant, Peter Taylor, after winning the European Cup in 1979

Clough poses with his assistant, Peter Taylor, after winning the European Cup in 1979

John Robertson, Ian Bowyer and Kenny Burns (left to right) lifting the European Cup in 1979

John Robertson, Ian Bowyer and Kenny Burns (left to right) lifting the European Cup in 1979

I certainly wouldn't be critical of the football culture at Forest because these are early days. It's far too soon to draw conclusions about the fact that they've lost their last four games and are second bottom of the Premier League - even though it will be a concern to them that the last two of those defeats have been against teams who were promoted with them.

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