Top positive review
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Hands down the best sports book I've read.
on 23 March 2017
I'll make an assumption about you. You're probably not particularly interested in Clough's childhood. Nor do you want a boring play-by-play description of his matches. You want to know about the man - particularly during his career as a manager. Well, I have never seen a person brought to life so vividly in an autobiography. This is an incredible piece of work.
The author does a particularly good job of describing Clough's alcoholism, which - although sad - was also darkly humorous. The stories of how Clough would drink with his dog Del Boy. Or push drink on the author whenever he stopped by Clough's office. It is genuinely funny. Clough's craftiness is evident throughout the book. From getting his guests to have "one more glass of scotch," to making a bit of money on the side, to landing players like Peter Shilton.
Nearer the end of the book, there's an incredible scene of Clough sitting in the stands, looking over the Notts Forest ground. It's the end of his time in charge. With a large glass of Vodka - disguised as water - he's muttering about the state of the game and the direction it's heading. In between complaints he hums a Frank Sinatra tune to himself. You feel as if you're sitting right there next to him.
Perhaps most astonishing are the predictions Clough made during this sad scene. He was absolutely bang on. Everything he predicted came true. He even used the exact language you hear today when people complain on shows like 606.
By the end, it felt fortunate Clough lived in the time he did. Truth is, great as Clough was, he'd never have achieved the same success today. Clough ruled over Forest with an iron fist. He even told a chairman to "Get the f***k out my office!" Today's managers don't have the same power he wielded. As for his comments and controversies...well, they would have finished him in seconds.
Overall it's a fascinating account - not just of the English game's greatest manager - but of the changes football underwent towards the end of his career.