The 20th July is the 40th anniversary of the appointment of Brain Clough as manager of Leeds United.
The always controversial Clough was dismissed from the post on 12 September 1974, a contentious and now legendary 44 days later.
Clough took over at Derby County in May 1967 with The Rams then languishing in the Second Division. He had been one of the youngest managers in the league when Hartlepool gave him a shot at managing the team in 1965 when just 30 years old.
Clough, along with assistant manager Peter Taylor, turned Derby around and not only led them back to the top flight but incredibly to the First Division title in the 1971-72 season. Clough and Taylor had a falling out with Derby’s Board of Directors over a series of issues, not least Clough’s inability to keep out of the headlines, and the pair resigned in October 1973.
After a brief and unsuccessful dalliance at Brighton & Hove Albion Clough took over at Elland Road, with Taylor opting to remain at Brighton.
The appointment of Clough was more than a little surprising as during his time at Derby Clough had been especially critical of Leeds and their previous manager, Don Revie. Never shy to forward an opinion, he often claimed Leeds ‘played dirty’ and even ventured to suggest that the Yorkshire giants should be relegated and Revie fined.
Clough’s new role as manager of Leeds didn’t stop him from continuing his criticism of Revie and Leeds’ prior tactics, and before too long he had alienated himself from many of the team’s star players, including the influential midfield pair of Johnny Giles and Billy Bremner.
Clough’s Leeds side won only one and drew two from its first six games, after which he was promptly sacked.
The dismissal only seemed to spur Clough on to greater success. In 1975 he reunited with Taylor and moved to Nottingham Forest, and just as he had done with Derby, he led them from mid-table in the Second Division to promotion and then the Division One title in 1978.
But Clough went one better by achieving his crowning glory; back-to-back European Cup triumphs in 1979 and 1980.
Ill health ravaged Clough and he retired as manager of Forest – and from football – in 1993 and passed way in 2004.
But despite his many trophies and incredible feats as a manager its his 44 day stint as boss of Leeds United that people never forget.
Author David Peace published a fictionalized account of Clough’s time at Leeds – The Damned Utd – in 2006. Although the book met with critical acclaim, Clough’s family and former players (including Giles) claimed Peace’s versions of events were inaccurate and painted Clough in too negative a light.
In 2009 a film version of the book was released with Michael Sheen as Clough. Despite some criticism from the football world over a number of ‘factual inaccuracies’ the film was very well received – with Sheen’s performance drawing particular praise.