Football: A new chip off the old big 'ead

'I don't find it daunting. All I can ask is that people judge me on what I do, not on what Dad achieved'

BESIDE the River Trent, some 25 miles upstream from where his father used to walk on the water, Nigel Clough has taken a commendably brave step of his own.

Nigel is the new player- manager ("more manager than player," he says) of Burton Albion, the Dr Martens League club. The comparisons with Brian Clough, his two League Championships, two European Cups and a forbiddingly successful career are inevitable but Nigel insists: "I'm looking ahead, not over my shoulder. The fact that I was taking on a job Dad did so well never crossed my mind.

"He casts a big shadow in other people's minds more than my own. He's been my Dad for 32 years now, so you get used to it and, anyway, there was similar speculation when I started as a player.

"My getting this job has created quite a bit of interest, though 99 per cent of the people still want to talk about him. It's understandable and I don't mind. I'm more interested in getting publicity and possible sponsors for Burton Albion than the personal part of it, anyway."

In looks and temperament, Nigel much more closely resembles his mother, Barbara, as he readily acknowledges, though there is more to it than that. "I have also made a conscious effort over the years not to be like him. That way I didn't get compared to him too often. Not to be like him was one of the easier parts of life with Dad.

"But I have always been tremendously proud of what he achieved in football and, given his track record as a manager, there is bound to be something thrown at me whatever I achieve from now on. That's not something I find daunting. All I can ask is that people judge me on what I do, not on what he achieved.

"I'm not overly concerned about keeping the family name going in managership. It might be that I only spend a couple of years here, fail miserably and never get another job in football. Then again, I might have a bit of success and maybe go on. You need a bit of luck along the way."

Luck has not figured prominently in Nigel's football life since he separated from Nottingham Forest and Brian Clough when the club were relegated in 1993. "My contract was up, so I thought it was now or never and I decided it was time to go." Liverpool were keen to buy and Nigel was happy to sign for Graeme Souness.

As ever, competition for places was keen at Anfield and when he found his first-team appearances limited he moved on to Manchester City in January 1996. "Alan Ball was the major reason I signed for them because I had a lot of respect for him and had worked with him when I played for England under Graham Taylor.

"Unfortunately, six months later, he had left. After him came Asa Hartford, Steve Coppell, Phil Neal, then Frank Clark and Joe Royle. I even went to Sheffield Wednesday on loan and played a couple of games under David Pleat but he left the club a few weeks later. With that sort of thing happening, you get paranoid after a while. At some point I would have liked to have gone back to Forest when things weren't working out but that didn't happen. Maybe with hindsight I should have stayed at Liverpool and battled it out there.

"It was very depressing at City. When you have been used to 10 years as a first-team regular and an international and you can't even get into a side that is struggling, you begin to have all sorts of doubts. You start trying to analyse what's gone wrong, what you're doing differently, and that tends to send you even more round the bend. Once you start thinking about the things that came naturally on the pitch it's downhill from there."

Clough's misery was deepened by long-term injury problems with his heels, which have prevented him playing for the last six months. The house he had bought in Knutsford as a base was sold and he returned to the home he had kept on in Duffield, across a Derbyshire dale from his parents' residence in Quarndon, with his wife, Margaret, and son William, now six months old.

Six weeks ago he read in the local paper that Burton had parted company with their manager, John Barton. "I thought it might not be a bad place to go so I talked it over with a few people, including my Dad. I thought he might say 'Hang on, see if you can get a youth team coach or a reserve coach job in the league'. But he was very positive and said there was no harm in it at all, that it would be a great place to start."

So an amicable parting was arranged with Manchester City, where Nigel still had 10 months of his contract left, and as a symbolic gesture he then sold the Mercedes which was part of his signing-on deal at City. "I suppose I was saying cheerio to the days of a highly-paid professional and all that. Now I am 15 minutes' drive from work in a smaller car and the improvement in my lifestyle is worth a lot. Neil Warnock started at Burton as a manager, Peter Taylor was here too. I think it's a good way to learn the ropes, get a grounding and a good feel for the job. You will find out if you are any good at it because the principles are the same here as they are anywhere. You have to get the best out of the lads you've got. We have everything here that a league club has, just on a smaller scale."

Burton's trim Eton Park stadium, painted in the club colours of bright yellow and black, has a capacity of 6,000. The club is debt-free, ground improvements are under way and there is an air of optimism and progress about the place. "They do lovely mushy peas here on match days as well," said Nigel.

There were three clean sheets and two wins to greet the new manager and the club are through to this Saturday's first round proper of the FA Cup, in which they are away to Kingstonian. Clough starts a three-year contract in charge of a 50-strong part-time squad that puts out a first team, reserve team and youth side.

But the realities of life at this level were brought home when Burton travelled to Morpeth in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round last Saturday. The coach left at 8am without the reserve goalkeeper because he coul not get off work until 10.

Nigel has recruited Gary Crosby, a former Forest team- mate, as his assistant - the Peter Taylor to his Brian Clough, some would say. Clough and Taylor got their start small-time at Hartlepool, so the partnership of Clough and Crosby should feel right at home.

Clough senior, whose football involvement tends to be through a large TV screen in his living room these days, has promised to go to see how Nigel is getting on. "I spoke to Dad about it last week and when things calm down a bit he will sneak in the back entrance one day and watch a game.

"My brother Simon has already been with his little lad, Stephen. He's nine now and has been going to football for five years. When the ball comes near him in the stand he wants to try and grab it. He came over the barrier four or five times in one game."

Clearly, another Clough prodigy in the making.

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker