TELEVISION / Manager of the match

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The Independent Culture
NOTTINGHAM Forest dropped like a sack of bricks out of football's Premier League last season and the manager, Brian Clough, took the fall with them, resigning from the game at the age of 58. Emotional times. In fact, in Goodbye to Cloughie (BBC 1), filmed around Clough's last game, there was more kissing and crying than in an entire season of Walt Disney live-action movies.

Fans blubbed on the terraces: the manager stood on the pitch and blubbed back. No ridiculous, Gascoigne-style self-pitying for Clough, whose tears were chiefly drawn by the warmth of people's response to him. The pecks on the cheek though, like a large part of Clough's public persona, were more calculating. Kissing things - principally babies - is, after all, the first recourse of the campaigning politician, and Clough merely extended the tactic to include supporters, policemen and - a sporting first - Barry Davies, the BBC commentator.

At the end, there were question marks over the man's fitness and one newspaper allegation that he was drinking too much. Clough wouldn't be drawn on either subject here, though he certainly appeared drawn. Interviewed after his last game in charge of Forest, he looked bruised and pocked, as if the team had run over him on their way back down the tunnel - no advertisement for 40 years in football.

In that time, Clough changed Derby and Nottingham from laughable no-hopers to swish Euro-competitors. Clough meanwhile became a personality, chiefly by talking himself up in that honking tone of his. 'I'm an ordinary man,' he said here, thus underlining his singularity, no ordinary person ever having been heard to protest their ordinariness.

Big on emotion, Goodbye to Cloughie, was frustratingly short on analysis. No fewer than seven players contributed to the section entitled 'Clough the Motivator', but nearly all of them told versions of the same story - how they had been sagging hopelessly at half-time, whereupon Clough had stormed into the dressing room, ripped into them with appalling and humiliating verbal venom and, bingo, a 6-1 triumph.

Only one of the players indicated a more oblique approach, telling how, the night before an away match, Clough had given the team a champagne supper which was all champagne and no supper, after which those who were still standing helped those who weren't up to their rooms. Result: a convincing victory. He was clearly a manager of many means and this programme didn't even gesture at the full spread.

Instead, we got cheerful celebrity tributes from Tommy Lawton and Roy McFarland and, coming in from the right wing, Kenneth Clarke MP, a somewhat surprising team choice, given Clough's politics. (This would have to be another mark of Clough's difference, football managers with socialist persuasions being about as easy to find as Marxist cab-drivers.)

But Man of the Match by a mile was Ian Bolton, bravely attempting an attacking interview while forced deep into his own half by Clough's random belligerence. 'What I'm going to do is ask you a few more questions . . .' 'No. What you're going to do is ask me one more question.' It was self-sacrificing of Bolton to leave these moments in. He gave 100 per cent.

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