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Brian Clough’s magic was putting a team of misfits together, admits Ian Woan

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Brian Clough won two European trophies with Nottingham Forest


Brian Clough’s magic was putting a team of misfits together, admits Ian Woan

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SportsCafe Desk


Burnley’s assistant manager Ian Woan has lavished praise upon legendary English boss Brian Clough and revealed that the genius was finding pieces that others wouldn’t see. Woah also added that Clough, the former Nottingham Forest manager, never allowed them to do any extra training.

Considered to be one of the greatest managers that English football has ever seen, Brian Clough’s spell at Leeds United may be infamous but it’s his time at Nottingham Forest for which the former striker is remembered as. Clough, during an eighteen-year-long spell with Forest, went on to win the First Division title, two European Cups and four League Cups with the club before eventually retiring.

That spell also saw him become one of four managers to have won the league title with two different clubs, with Forest winning the 1977/78 league title after getting promoted. But Clough’s also infamous for his training and man-management skills, something that Ian Woan can attest to. The 53-year-old, who signed for Forest in 1990, admitted that Clough’s magic “was finding the missing pieces of puzzle and putting a team of misfits together”. He also added that Clough never allowed “extra training” and valued downtime.

“We weren’t allowed to do extra training. No gym, either. Sometimes we’d have a bad result and in the dressing room afterwards, Clough would just say: ‘OK, lads. See you Thursday.’ He valued downtime and had a phobia about players getting injured, that impacted his own playing career. The gaffer never discussed the opposition. It was all about instilling confidence in us," Woan told the Guardian.

“His magic was finding the missing pieces of the puzzle and putting a team of misfits together. Anyone else would just see pieces in a box. On match days, at 2.50pm, we’d be throwing a tennis ball around, throw it to the gaffer, he’d throw it back. No music, the door would be open. 

“He’d just point at the ball, and say to us: ‘Lads, this is your friend. Look after it.’ Archie Gemmill might be saying something in a players’ ear. ‘All the best, skipper,’ Clough would say to Pearce. And then we’d be off,” he added.

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