Brian Clough


Brian Clough first became a manager at Hartlepool United in 1965 after a playing career that saw him make two appearances for the England National Team. He went on to manage Derby, Brighton and Leeds before becoming manager at Nottingham Forest in 1975. He remained at Forest, where he won back to back European Cups in 1979 and 1980, until 1993.

6 Coaching Points from Brian Clough

  1. 1



Any idiot can coach a group of players to kick the ball as hard and high as possible and then gallop after it. Given time I could train a monkey to do itBrian Clough, Walking on Water
His philosophy about how the game ought to be approached was refreshing:
style mattered…it wasn‘t enough to win- he wanted to win playing beautiful football. He wanted the ball passed elegantly as if it were on a thread, from player to player, preferring creative intuition to brute force. He demanded style as well as discipline. As Clough saw it teams who played the long ball were horned devils
  1. 2


I‘m not sure how important the formation is. What I do know is that players need to feel comfortable with the job you‘re asking them to carry out...I never considered the opposition or changed the way his team played to try and stop the opposition. Brian Clough, Walking on Water
  1. 3


Clough would spot it. A seemingly innocuous mistake that resulted in a goal conceded three or four minutes later, a tackle missed, or a failure to make the right run, or pass, would be correctly identified as the cause of the goal. It was no use pointing the finger at someone else – which is second nature to most players. He knew, you knew he knew  Roy Keane, Keane
  1. 4


Every football match consists of a thousand little things which, added together, amount to the final score. The manager who can‘t spot the details in the forensic matter that Clough could is simply bluffing. The game is full of bluffers, banging on about 'rolling your sleeves up‘, having the right attitude‘ and 'taking some pride in the shirt you‘re wearing‘. A manager or coach who trades in those clichéd generalizations – and there are many of them – is missing the point. Brian Clough dealt in detail, facts, specific incidents, and invariably he got it right. Playing for him was demanding. I loved it  Roy Keane, Keane
  1. 5


I didn‘t ask any of my players to mark an opponent out of the game, not once. I would give them the instruction ‗you look after your own patch no matter who comes into it. ‗You couldn‘t get to him on the near post because he‘s quicker than you‘. So you stand in your patch and if he comes into your patch you deal with it … if he goes hold your position …The ball will come across at some stage and if you‘re not around it will be the one they put in the net  Brian Clough, Walking on Water
  1. 6
He wasn‘t that quick but it didn‘t matter that much, it never does. I‘ve worked with players who could do 100 yards in 10 seconds (ish) … real pace is only an asset to players who are prepared to use it when it matters most.  Brian Clough, Walking on Water