Thursday, March 26, 2009

THE DAMNED UNITED opens in cinemas in the UK tomorrow.

Ever since I’d heard that it was being made I’ve been looking forward to seeing it. The clips I’ve seen on TV have whetted my appetite no end, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to see it asap somehow.

For the few of you who still have no idea as to what I’m talking about, but it’s the film adaptation of David Peace’s controversial book of the same name chronicling Brian Clough’s 44 day reign as manager of Leeds United.

It’s a book I have no interest in reading. It seems trash and crass. It’s fiction based on fact, with the writer playing out what he think happened in a real situation but with so many inaccuracies as to render it laughable but also very offensive to Brian Clough’s memory.

So why so keen to see the film? Well a true biopic of Cloughie is still overdue so this is the next best thing for starters, but also the film makers have promised a more rounded and warm and accurate portrayal of the footballing genius. Michael Sheen looks to be amazing in it and to cast Timothy Spall as his right hand man Peter Taylor is inspired.

To get people in the mood for the film release (or to unashamedly cash in on the buzz?!), ITV aired a fascinating documentary dedicated to the great Cloughie last night. What a joy to watch and a must see for all football fans (if you missed it catch it on ITV’s catch up player HERE).

I’ve heard a lot of the history, the stories and the myths surrounding Brian Clough over the years, and he was one of the first managers I remember watching and admiring growing up, but my knowledge was certainly sketchy and far from complete. The ITV documentary though was phenomenal at filling in those gaps and for bringing the younger ones in the audience fully up to speed with his iconic achievements.

Chats to his family, friends and colleagues revealed some extraordinary details about what being close to Cloughie was like and what it was like to work under him and these were all interspersed with some great clips and quotes from Brian as a TV pundit and at press conferences.

Peter Taylor used to tell the players that they had to win on the pitch because of the things that Brian said off it!

The interview after his sacking from Leeds in the studio with Don Revie is footballing commentary gold. The England manager debacle baffling and the end, which just touches on his later troubles, very moving.

His rise to legendary status and his self belief that got him there were well detailed. You have to wonder what he would do with some of the super paid prima donnas that you find in the Premiership these days. How we he deal with a Cristiano Ronaldo?!

At the same time, what achievements would he have gone on to with the money and talent that would have been at his disposal?

Different times and circumstances I know, but it’s always one of those great sporting conversations that you can’t help but having.

His man management skills and his ability to develop players and adapt tactics are missing from so many managers in today's game. Oh to have a Brian Clough style figure at East Fife now and for the future. The football would be a joy to watch and what a fun ride it would be!

"It's only opinion. It makes the world go round"
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