As well as England producing a number of managers that have been a success with the national team, it has also produced a number of ”larger than life” characters who have been successful in domestic football. Few managers have had films made about their career but this was certainly the case with Brian Clough who was the subject of the 2009 film “The Damned United”. Clough started off his career in football as a striker with Middlesborough and Sunderland scoring 251 goals from the 274 games he played. This is the third highest conversion rate of goals from a player from games played in the league.
Injury resulted in him retiring from the game at 29 years of age. He returned to football at the age of 35 when he became the manager of Hartlepools United with Peter Taylor as his assistant, a partnership that would last for the next 20 years. After three years they left the club to take charge at Derby County in 1968. They first achieved promotion to the top league in 1969 and by 1972 they were the champions of England. They were also successful in Europe reaching the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1973.
However, a feature of Clough was his own management style. He was famed for his own self confidence and outrageous statements that he would make to the press, and got him regular appearances as a television pundit. He even called himself “old big head” and would regularly make large bids for other players without consulting the Derby County board. Eventually in 1973 he left for a brief spell at Brighton, before being appointed the manager at Leeds United. At this time Leeds were the strongest club side in England and Clough had previously made disparaging comments about the players and the previous manager Don Revie.
It was clear from the start that there were still wounds between the manager and his new players that were never going to be healed, and he only lasted 44 days in the job before he was sacked. However, it wasn’t long before he was back in work when he was appointed manager of second division Nottingham Forest in 1975. He was with the East Midlands club for the next 18 seasons. They first won promotion to the first division in 1977, then won the league title in 1978. They won the European Cup in 1979 and 1980 and also won the League Cup in 1978, 1979, 1989 and 1990.
A manager who has shown the same confidence as Clough is Jose Mourinho who started his career as assistant to Bobby Robson at Porto and Barcelona. He then had successful spells managing Benfica and Porto before moving to Chelsea in 2005.
Brought in on the back of chairman’s Roman Abramovich’s millions, Chelsea went on to win their first league title in 50 years. They followed this up by retaining the title in the 2007 season and he soon became popular with the press labelling himself as “the chosen one”. However at the end of the season he left the club after conflicts with the Chelsea chairman. After 6 years in Europe coaching Inter Milan and Real Madrid he returned to Chelsea in 2013 but to take over as manager. Once again he won the league title in his first season but then was sacked the following season after a poor run of results.
In May 2016 he was appointed as manager of Manchester United and now he has the tough task of trying to emulate the achievements of one of the most successful managers in British football Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson was appointed manager in 1986 and in the next 26 years in charge the club won 38 trophies which included 13 league titles and 2 Champion League titles. When he first started in the role Manchester United had not won the league title for 19 seasons and it took 7 seasons before the club won their first title with the Scotsman in charge. From this point forward the successes became a regular occurrence on the back of excellent transfers and a youth policy that unearthed many international players. Ferguson may not have shown the outward confidence that so many other managers have, but none have achieved greater success.