Billy is better than Cloughie
As Forest’s most perceptive fans know, Billy Davies is clearly an improvement on the mediocre Sean O’Driscoll, but is Billy, in fact, even better than our other ‘legend’, Brian Clough?
Okay I know Old Big ’Ead has left us now, but the appointment of Forest Legend Billy Davies got me thinking, in a perfect world, who would we rather have masterminding Forest’s escape from the second tier of English football… Billy Davies or Brian Clough?
That’s easy: it’s got to be Billy Davies. Billy took us to successive Championship play-offs. His record at Forest, Derby and Preston proves beyond doubt he’s a good manager at this level, but what of Clough? For me, he was over-rated at Forest, and well, just a bit average, like Sean O’Driscoll.
When Brian took over in January 1975 Forest were 13th in the second tier and we fell to 16th by the end of the season. Three places lost in his first five months. That’s much worse than the 11 places gained by Sean O’Driscoll in the five months that proved conclusively Sean just wasn’t that good.
Next season under Clough we finished eighth, which isn’t even any better than where we were when Sean O’Driscoll left us. But it wasn’t just our league position that bothered us Forest fans, was it? Some of the team’s performances were dreadful. Seven losses at home that second season showed Clough clearly didn’t know what he was doing.
Where were the speedy wingers for example? Any fool could see we needed more pace than Martin O’Neil and John Robertson could provide on the flanks. How could we win anything with a one-paced converted central-midfielder on the right and a stocky, skilful but slow-ish winger on the left. Clough was showing the sort of tactical naivety you’d expect from a lesser manager like Sean O’Driscoll.
But what bothered me most about Clough’s Forest team back then was the terrible inconsistency…we just couldn’t put a run together. Trying to play thoughtful, possession-based attacking football is one thing but only playing well and winning *sometimes*… well that’s downright infuriating for us fans. We needed results and we needed them now. What was Clough doing? It was like watching one of Sean O’Driscoll’s sides.
I think we hit rock bottom under Clough with that awful 1-2 loss to Hull at the City Ground. ‘Cloughie out now!’ I bellowed from the Trent End, though hardly anyone joined in. If only we’d had Twitter in those days, us more knowledgeable fans could have really let the owners know how bad we were feeling, I mean, losing at home to Hull by a score like that…
All I can say is thank God we sacked Clough before the 1976/77 season got under way. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that Forest clearly weren’t going anywhere under Clough. Now if only Billy had been around back then…