FORTY FOUR DAYS AT LEEDS
IN CLOUGHIE'S OWN WORDS
Cloughie looks back at those 44 days at Leeds
Brian Clough spent just forty-four days as manager of Leeds United in 1974. He succeeded Don Revie who had led the club to the League Championship the previous season before becoming England manager. Much has been said about what happened - but for the truth we look to Cloughie's own words.
Cloughie said he wanted to manage Leeds so he could try to win the European Cup - something he had missed-out on at Derby County. Leeds had already qualified for the competition as league champions. "Did I say the European Cup? I hardly lasted long enough to be given my own teacup at Leeds," Cloughie said in his first autobiography in 1994 (Partridge Press).
Before arriving at Elland Road on July 31st, 1974, Cloughie had made it clear he didn't like the way Leeds played football and often criticised their players. "Leeds had been the dirtiest and most cynical team in the country in the late Sixties and early Seventies, and from my soap-box as manager of Derby and the best pundit on television I had said so on numerous occasions." Cloughie felt Leeds' cynicism devalued the marvellous football they produced.
But it meant the players were wary of him when he arrived as their boss. "Little did I realise the extent of the dislike and resentment - if not downright hatred - waiting for me at Elland Road." He repeated the criticisms when he met the players face-to-face. Later, he admitted he failed to win their confidence or support.
Feeling that Leeds were not really 'his team,' Cloughie phoned Don Revie and asked if he would like to lead the players out for the 1974 Charity Shield match at Wembley. Revie declined, so it was Brian who walked out ahead of the players, along-side Bill Shankly whose Liverpool team had won the FA Cup.
Looking back, Cloughie admitted that he tried to make changes at Leeds too quickly. He said he had inherited an ageing team - "a side on its last legs." There were several contracts that needed negotiating and the players were concerned about their futures. Don Revie had recommended Johnny Giles to be his successor, but Clough says he didn't get the chance to know Giles and only wished he had been able to do so. He felt Giles may have become his new Peter Taylor - his right-hand man who had shared the success at Derby and would do so again at Nottingham Forest.
"Reflection tells me that the biggest mistake of all was my eagerness to accept the job in the first place," Clough says in his second autobiography in 2002 (Walking on Water, Headline Publishing). "Leeds weren't for me and I wasn't for them." In an ITV documentary (March 2009) Johnny Giles commented: "Brian Clough's attitude to football was the direct opposite of the attitude at Leeds at that time. It was a clash which neither of us could understand."
Leeds under Clough lost the first league match 3-0 and things went from bad to worse, with just four points from six league games. Just seven weeks after arriving at Elland Road, Clough was sacked - but ensured his contract was fully paid-up. That meant he received a pay-off of around £100,000. For the first time in his life, Cloughie was financially secure. "In denting my ego and showing me the door, Leeds United did me the biggest favour of my professional life."
The financial security meant Cloughie was still smiling - and could take on any job without fear of the consequences. The Leeds money allowed him to pay off his mortgage and move to a larger house in the country.
Just hours after being sacked, Cloughie appeared on a live television programme, alongside his Leeds predecessor, Don Revie, who had become England manager. It was a Yorkshire TV Calender Special. At one point in the programme, Revie asked Clough why he had taken the job when he been openly critical of them. "Because it was the best job in the country," replied Clough. "I was taking over the league champions. I wanted to have a crack at the European Cup and win it. I wanted to do something you hadn't done."
At the end of the programme, the interviewer Austin Mitchell asks Clough where he goes from there - after his resignation at Derby and disappointment at Brighton. "Aren't you in a difficult position, after the argument at Derby, you left Brighton under a cloud and now this with Leeds. Who's going to touch you with a barge-pole?"
Thankfully, Nottingham Forest had the largest barge-pole available and pulled the Master Manager into the most successful job of his amazing career.