AND IT’S UNREAL

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - NIGEL CLOUGH

be­cause of the salaries. It’s try­ing to keep all that to­gether.

“You try to sur­round your­self with good peo­ple. That’s what the chair­man does. If you get good peo­ple around you have a chance.”

Clough is a reg­u­lar reader of our sis­ter news­pa­per, The NonLeague Pa­per. Non-League is his man­age­rial roots and he hasn’t for­got­ten.

Neme­sis

The first thing Clough won at Bur­ton af­ter ar­riv­ing from play­ing at For­est in Oc­to­ber 1998 was the Dr Martens South­ern League Cup in 2000 by beat­ing Hast­ings. He missed out on the Pre­mier Divi­sion ti­tle in 1999-00 and 2000-01. It was Boston the first time, then Mar­gate.

“I keep an eye on the scene through The Non-League Pa­per and the amount of teams we have played over the years, clubs like Mar­gate,” re­calls Clough. “They were our neme­sis and they’ve just got rel­e­gated out of the Na­tional League South. It’s amaz­ing how it changes.

“Bur­ton was the only job avail­able to me. We’d just had the baby in ‘98 and we didn’t want to travel far.

“It was a player-man­ager’s job, which ap­pealed to the chair­man be­cause he thought he was get­ting two for the price of one.

“There was only one League va­cancy and it was Leeds. So I didn’t think there was too much chance of get­ting that. I might have been strug­gling. I would’ve had to change my name.”

Brian Clough spent 44 tur­bu­lent days as Leeds man­ager be­fore mak­ing For­est the best team in Europe.

Nigel trav­elled with his dad to For­est games, sit­ting with the subs on the bench as of­ten as not, but Wil­liam does it solo. “He has grown up through all this,” says Clough. “From the old ground at Eton Park where Wil­liam used to have a cuppa and have a kick­about. He was a mas­cot a cou­ple of times. “He is at uni­ver­sity now, so it’s a way of mea­sur­ing it all. He still comes and watches. I think that’s why he went down the road for his uni.” As he has to leave and head for his academy tech­ni­cal meet­ing, Nigel makes a re­quest. “Don’t make this about me,” he says. “Make it about the peo­ple here.” It’s why he turned down the chance to leave and man­age For­est (“my his­tory there, fol­low­ing my dad, it was very, very dif­fi­cult”) and why he sat qui­etly at home, drained, tired, with his son, daugh­ter, wife and a glass of cham­pagne af­ter get­ting the de­ci­sive point at Barns­ley.

Be­fore they sign any player, Nigel, his as­sis­tant Gary Crosby, coach Andy Gar­ner and goal­keep­ing coach Martin Tay­lor will all make as­sess­ments.

“We can’t af­ford to make mis­takes. They also have to fit in,” says Clough.

Cham­pagne

There’s a player at New­cas­tle who earns more in one week than Clough’s en­tire weekly play­ing staff bud­get.

“I use that. Tell them to go and show these big earn­ers what they can do,” he said. “Ev­ery one of our play­ers has con­trib­uted some­thing. You don’t stay up by a point if you don’t get those con­tri­bu­tions. You are down.

“The word ‘mis­fits’ was used about the play­ers. They’re not mis­fits, but there is a rea­son they are here. It’s a chal­lenge.

“They are not idiots, they know we are favourites to go down .They come here, they look around and they see we have three sides ter­raced and they think it’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult.

“We haven’t got a train­ing ground. We are so for­tu­nate that we’ve got St Ge­orge’s Park 15 min­utes up the road.

“They look af­ter us bril­liantly but we meet here, go in our cars, train, come back, get changed and have a bite to eat.”

It was 30 years this week since Bur­ton first played at Wem­b­ley, a goal­less FA Tro­phy draw with Kid­der­min­ster, los­ing the re­play

On the same day as the Tro­phy an­niver­sary, Clough got a let­ter.

“It said it’s been so ex­cit­ing hav­ing all the big teams down here and to have them again next sea­son. No New­cas­tle next sea­son but Sun­der­land, Mid­dles­brough, Sh­effield United, Bolton.

“I don’t know what their an­niver­saries might be, what they might be re­call­ing, but ours is the day we got to the FA Tro­phy fi­nal. We’ll be the only ones do­ing that.”

MODEL OF CON­SIS­TENCY: Chair­man Ben Robin­son

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