It’s impossible to judge any other manager by Brian Clough’s exceptionally high standards. But his record at Nottingham Forest wasn’t that impressive to begin with, says Andrew Brookes



People often ask how successful Brian Clough would have been if he were a manager in the modern era.

It’s an interesting one to ponder but a stat this week got me thinking that, frankly, if Clough The Second Coming were visited upon us, the whole thing would probably have been nipped in the bud before it even began.

Why? Well, as several people have pointed out over the weekend, his record when he first came wasn’t that great.

Old Big ‘Ead’s first 17 games brought just two wins.

I like Fawaz. His almost childlike enthusiasm for the club is infectious. However, you’d have to say that the current owner would have sacked the man whose fairytale story attracted him to Trentside based on that record.

And, to be fair, many fans would be happy with the decision. There’d have even been a #cloughout hashtag I’m sure.

 

I’m not judging by the way, I often find myself getting carried away by the modern obsession with rushing to judgement. It’s easy to be swept up in a sea of hype.

I’m not sure what’s to blame – maybe it’s the fact football has become such a big money business that causes owners to reach for the trigger out of panic and fans to demand value for their expensive tickets? Maybe it’s the increased media spotlight that focuses attention on short-term results and encourages rush judgements. Or maybe it’s that as a society we’re obsessed with getting what we want instantly at the touch of a button, making us all less patient.

By comparison to Clough, Pearce’s start has been very strong (W7 D7 L3) yet some still grumble. There’s plenty that needs to be improved but the side is still developing – and still coming to terms with losing the spine of Hobbs, Reid and Cohen.

This isn’t the first time Clough’s stats from the start of his era have been dragged up. It’s a common way to show how surprisingly well a new incumbent is doing. I’m not suggesting Pearce will go on to ‘do a Clough’ but it’s a handy way of proving that a few draws and defeats early on should not lead to a rushed judgement.

It’s also timely to reflect on the figures as Leeds United bring the curtain down on the reign of Darko Milanic after a 12-days-shorter-than-Cloughie 32 days.

Football is barmy. I don’t blame anyone in particular for getting taken in by the madness but when reacting to the next defeat or bad run, I’m going to promise myself I’ll linger on the sobering thought that, in this strange era, Clough wouldn’t have had chance to work his miracle.


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