Monday, September 20, 2004

Ol' Big 'Ead Drops

There are many that argue that Sir Alex Ferguson is the greatest football manager of all time. They're entitled to their opinion, and I can understand some of their reasoning, but I believe they are wrong.

There are two men I'd put ahead of Fergie as the best managers in my lifetime. First up, there was Bill Shankly who took a middling Division 2 club in Liverpool and created an empire that dominated the domestic game for the best part of two decades. But an even greater achievement was managed by Brian Clough (who sadly died today aged 69) who not only took one unfashionable club to the title in Derby County, but proved it wasn't a fluke by doing it all over again a few years later with Nottingham Forest. Not only did he take Forest to the championship in their first season in the top flight, but he followed it up with two successive European Cups. In addition, no-one in sport gave more entertaining interviews aside from perhaps Muhammed Ali at his peak.

Of course, he had his flaws (rumours of alcohol problems and financial impropriety, the latter unsubstantiated, beleagured his final years in charge at Forest) and, like many successful men, made a fair few enemies. He had an enormous ego (not for nothing he was called 'Ol' Big 'Ead) but if it was dwarfed by anything it was his love for the game and his determination to speak his mind whatever the consequences. He'll be sadly missed.


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