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SL's Top Managers: 9- Brian Clough

9. Brian Clough, (1935-2004),  Nottingham Forest  

Spot the odd one out: Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Nottingham Forest.

The chances are, most readers will have picked Forest- a mid-table team in the English Championship, compared to the Premier League luminaries, the Red Devils, Reds, Blues and Gunners.

But in fact, the odd team out is Arsenal: the only team mentioned not to have lifted the European Cup.

Nottingham Forest!  European champions? Yes and yes again.

In 1979 and 1980, during the great eras of European giants Ajax Amsterdam, Bayern Munich and Liverpool, little Forest won back-to-back European Cups, just four years after winning promotion to the then English First Division.

And Nottingham’s unprecedented, never-to-be-repeated success was all thanks to one man, ninth on Soccer-Laduma’s list of top managers of all time: Brian Clough.

Controversial Clough was a prolific striker for Tyne-Wear rivals Middlesbrough and Sunderland from 1955-1964, until a knee injury ended his playing career at 29.

With 251 league goals to his name from just 274 starts, Clough remains one of Britain’s all-time top scorers, and was a guaranteed legend even before his colourful managerial career.

He made his name as a boss at Derby County, taking them from the Second Division as champions into the First in 1970, and winning the top-flight title just one season later.

He repeated the same trick at Forest, who were mired in 13th place in the Second Division when he joined as manager.

Just one season later, Forest were First Division champions, with Clough becoming just the first manager since Herbert Chapman to win the league with two different teams.

This was at the time of Bill Shankly’s Liverpool crushing machine and Don Revie’s nasty but efficient Leeds. For Forest to beat them was nothing short of a footballing miracle.

Incredibly, Clough then led Forest to the European Cup crown, knocking out holders Liverpool along the way to beat Malmo in the final. And amazingly, he did it again the next season, against Kevin Keegan-inspired Hamburg.

Just think about it: it's like Brimingham City manager Lee Clarke somehow making his team Premier League then Champions League winners!

Controversial, outspoken and opinionated, Clough’s career ultimately petered out into a lost battle with alcoholism.

But to this day, he is revered as arguably the best British manager ever, for the way he took to two lowly Midlands teams to top-flight glory, and made one of them the best team in Europe twice.

In total, Clough won 12 trophies during has managerial career, which was peppered with arguments, feuds and allegations due to his sharp wit and occasional spitefulness.

But his managerial alchemy, turning minnows into champions during football’s grittiest era, may never be repeated.

Brian Clough: SL’s ninth best manager of all time.

10- Munoz; 9- Clough

SL's Top Managers: 9- Brian Clough

Liverpool Down Hull

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