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Clough follows in father's footsteps

Brian Clough with son Nigel during his days as Derby manager
Brian Clough won the League with Derby when son Nigel was a toddler

Forty-two years ago, a brash 32-year-old in the shape of Brian Clough arrived at Derby County as the club's new manager and took the Rams on an extraordinary journey.

Taking over with Derby near the bottom of the old Second Division, he got them promoted, led them to their first League title and took them to the semi-finals of the European Cup, before leaving in controversial fashion in 1973.

Now, once more at the wrong end of English football's second tier and desperate to bring the glory days back to the city, Derby have gambled on a Clough again.

Nigel, having managed Blue Square Premier leaders Burton Albion with distinction for 10 years, follows in his father's footsteps by becoming the Rams' new manager.

But will the 42-year-old be a success? And how much does he share in common with his famous father? BBC Radio 5 Live's Pat Murphy , who knows the Clough family better than most, assesses Nigel's prospects.


This is the best time for Nigel Clough to determine whether he actually wants to be a manager in a full-time capacity. He has shrewdly managed his life after retiring from playing because he is a devoted family man.

While in charge of neighbouring Burton, a part-time club, he could take his two kids to school and pick them up, while living in the area and being close to his mother Barbara, brother Simon and sister Elizabeth.

Sea-Sea-Seaside Ram

They are a close family and also Derby is a club close to Nigel's heart. He admires the way that they treated his father with respect - when Brian retired in 1993 he was always welcomed back, first of all at the Baseball Ground and then at Pride Park.

Don't forget, when Brian died in September 2004, his memorial service was held at Pride Park, not the City Ground in Nottingham. So Nigel has a great deal of affection for Derby County.


At the age of 42, this is the best time for Nigel to find out whether managing a big club is for him.

His father often used to say to me that he didn't know whether Nigel had the burning ambition to be a full-time football manager but there is more than one way to skin a cat.

Brian came into Football League management at the age of 30; Nigel came into management only two years older at the age of 32.

But Nigel has chosen to do it his way; in a low-key fashion, learning his trade while at the same time having a sane, balanced family life and continuing being a devoted family man - who is to say he has got it wrong?


Not necessarily.

Nigel Clough
Clough made 317 appearances for Derby's rivals Forest

I knew him when he was just finishing his A-levels after he first joined Nottingham Forest in the early 1980s. I was always very impressed by his dignity and his intelligence. He was a man of few words with the media which is not a bad thing - I don't blame him at all for that.

I admire the fact that he blossomed as a player at Forest and he was always popular with the other players.

He is a balanced individual - a sane, rational person - and he would have seen what football management has done to various people, most of all his father, because there are times when the ravages of the games get to you.

Nigel will have seen that at first hand and he would have seen how his father was often away on management duty and he would think to himself do I want that for my kids who are growing up, do I want that for myself?


Nigel showed he is a passionate advocate of passing football - a la Brian - when Burton played Manchester United in the FA Cup third round three years ago.

He has always had strong views on how the game should be played and that is obviously the way Burton play.

Nigel is also bright enough to get the right people around him and I am sure that is something he is addressing at the moment.

There is no prototype of what makes a successful manager - who is to say Nigel won't be able to do it.

He is not a soft touch just because he is courteous, well-mannered and dignified.

Just because he's got all those personal qualities, which we all respect, doesn't mean he can't be as tough as old boots when he has to be.

Nigel was his own man as a player and he is his own man as a manager

BBC Radio 5 Live's Pat Murphy

He was tough when he had to be as a player, countering those accusations of nepotism at Forest, which he rebuffed very early on with the sheer quality of his play.

And he is a team man too. When Forest got relegated in the 1992-93 season, he was stand-in captain many times because Stuart Pearce was injured and he also played centre-half in quite a few of those games - he did what he had to, and what he was told, without a murmur.

Nigel does not play to the gallery - that is just not his style. He is so much more like his mother Barbara than Brian in many ways - dignified and discreet.

He may well have inherited lots of traits from his father in terms of football skills and love of the game but he is more like his mother in terms of temperament.


Nigel will have thought through that whole aspect over a period of time.

When he first joined Forest he would have known all about the fact that he was the son of the most famous manager in the game at the time.

New Derby manager Nigel Clough
Clough steered Burton to the top of the Blue Square Premier this season

He will have thought it through in 1998 when he entered football management with Burton and would have been well aware then that people would make comparisons between him and Brian.

And, now he is at Derby, he will have thought about people talking about him as 'son of Brian' once again.

Well, as Brian used to say, 'he's not my son at work, he's the number nine'. And Nigel Clough will want people to think of him as Nigel Clough the manager, not the son of Brian.

It's not his fault he is the son of a football genius. Let him, like Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson (the son of Sir Alex Ferguson), go his own way and make his own mistakes.

Nigel will always say judge me on results, not my father and not my potential. He was his own man as a player and he is his own man as a manager.


Nigel has learnt his trade with 10 years in the lower divisions but has he been over-promoted? We don't know yet.

There are plenty of people better qualified for the job but Nigel understands that club.

At this juncture they are good for each other.

He has lived in the Derby area most of his life, he has got a Derby accent and he respects the club and its traditions. He is also intelligent enough to take advice from a wide range of contacts.

Some calm stewardship and dignified leadership are exactly what Derby need after the last couple of years of turbulence

BBC Radio 5 Live's Pat Murphy

As for their immediate prospects, well, relegation is not an option. They won't go down - they have got enough good players there.

Intelligent Derby supporters won't expect them to soar up the table either - these things don't happen in football. It will be a consolidation period, he will steady the ship.

He will just plug away and work hard - expect sensible consolidation and sensible measured progress without any dramas.

Some calm stewardship and dignified leadership are exactly what Derby need after the last couple of years of turbulence under first Billy Davies and then Paul Jewell.

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see also
I will do it my own way - Clough
07 Jan 09 |  Derby
Clough takes over as Derby boss
06 Jan 09 |  Derby
Jewell resigns as Derby manager
29 Dec 08 |  Derby
Mixed emotions for Clough's son
06 Nov 08 |  Football
Crowds see Clough statue unveiled
06 Nov 08 |  Derbyshire
Clough named in Euro Hall of Fame
09 Oct 08 |  Nottm Forest
Burton Albion 0-0 Man Utd
08 Jan 06 |  FA Cup
Obituary: Brian Clough
20 Sep 04 |  Football
Clough in his own words
20 Sep 04 |  Football

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