Martin O’Neil has said it was a mistake for Brian Clough to have described the Leeds United players as “cheats”.
Talking on The Friday Football Social on the BBC, O’Neil conducted a big interview and delivered his insight into Clough’s ill-fated tenure as manager at Leeds.
“A magnetic character quite obviously, he came to us [Nottingham Forest] in 1975.
“The debacle with Leeds was still firmly in his mind, he’d been there for about 44 days and got sacked.
“I think he made a mistake going there, he certainly made a mistake calling Leeds United players cheats, saying they should throw their medals in the dustbin.
“He was talking to not only the best team in England at the time, possibly in Europe, but also some of the very best players.”
The incredible time of Clough at Leeds was covered brilliantly by David Peace in his book The Damned Utd and the following film starring Martin Sheen.
If you’ve not read it, do that now. If you don’t read books, watch the film.
Given his long-running feud with Leeds and Don Revie, and his style of play at Leeds, it was absurd that Clough was ever appointed as Leeds manager.
And he did himself no favours in his first speech to the players, which is the incident that O’Neil is talking about.
Clough said: “You lot may all be internationals, and have won all the domestic honours there are to win under Don Revie. But as far as I’m concerned, the first thing you can do for me is chuck all your medals and all your caps and all your pots and all your pans into the biggest dustbin you can find. Because you’ve never won any of them fairly. You’ve done it all by cheating.”
Now we may have no experience as a top-flight manager but we can’t imagine that would do you any favours at a new club.
And, as O’Neil said, Clough wasn’t talking to just any players, but some of the very best in the game and certainly the best team in England at the time.
Given that, it’s perhaps a surprise that Clough lasted as long as he did.
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