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Jose Mourinho said Brian Clough is one of his managerial icons
Mourinho has made no secret that the late Nottingham Forest manager is one of his managerial heroes and once made a ‘pilgrimage’ to the City Ground.
And as Clough junior prepared his Burton Albion side to go head-to-head with Mourinho and Manchester United for the first time tonight, he pointed out the similarities in managerial style and personality with his father, who he spent the bulk of his playing career playing for at Forest.
“The way they go about it and the way that they deal with things in such a no-nonsense manner is similar,” said Clough, ahead of Burton’s Carabao Cup third-round tie at Old Trafford. “It’s black or it’s white and that’s it. If a player does the job for him he has him in and if he doesn’t that’s it.
“I think they look at things in very similar ways. The way he deals with the press and the media, there are similarities there. He’s just no-nonsense and says what he thinks and that’s the biggest similarity.”
Months before his death in 2004, Clough senior recognised a kindred spirit in Mourinho, who was then an emerging managerial talent.
“I like the look of Mourinho,” he said. “There’s a bit of the young Clough about him. For a start, he’s good looking and, like me, he doesn’t believe in the star system.
“He’s consumed with team spirit and discipline, and the players have to fit in with his pattern of play, and that’s right.”
Mourinho was flattered by the comments and in the foreword to the 2015 book ‘I Believe in Miracles’, about Clough’s back-to-back European Cup triumphs with Forest, the self-proclaimed Special One said: “A lot of people say we have similarities and there are certainly coincidences.
“We all probably remember Clough’s best quotes. ‘I wouldn’t say I am the best football manager there is,’ he used to say, ‘but I am in the top one.’ I love that line.
Brian Clough is widely regarded as one of the best managers after his feats with Nottingham Forest
There’s a bit of the young Clough about him. For a start, he’s good looking
“He had all that self-esteem and big self-belief. He was very confident about himself, and from what I know about him he was very comfortable with the attention.
“Maybe because Brian Clough was such a huge personality, with so much charisma, everyone remembers his quotes and the stories and a few people forget his talents.
“He didn’t win two European Cups with Nottingham Forest just because of his charisma.
“History cannot delete what he and Forest did – their results, the cups, the achievements, absolutely unbelievable achievements. I have huge respect for what they did.
“I think if Brian Clough was around today, we would get on.”
Clough junior admits he switched off United’s win over Everton because he had seen enough and will not show his players footage of the game for fear of scaring the life out of them.
“I watched the first 10 minutes,” he said. “That was enough. My wife said, ‘Do you want to watch it?’ and I said, ‘No, not really’, so we turned it off! It frightens us and it frightens the players.
“Everton couldn’t get out of their half for the first 10 minutes – and that’s a team like Everton. We envisage something similar.
“I hope we don’t concede, I hope somebody doesn’t smack one in from 25 or 30 yards like Antonio Valencia did on Sunday – we can do without that. We’ll try not to make any mistakes and we’ll try to get out of our own half if we can.”
Nigel Clough, Brian Cloughs son, is in charge of Burton
But Clough can draw on the experience of taking United – then managed by Sir Alex Ferguson – to an FA Cup replay after a 0-0 draw at home, when Burton were still a non-League club.
And he believes the £500,000-plus they made from television and gate receipts from the two games – they lost the replay 5-0 – helped set them on their way to the Championship.
“We had moved to our new stadium but the work had gone over-budget,” he said.
“To get that tie meant we could be debt-free and we’ve been debt-free ever since.
“I think the chairman was in tears. He knew at the time what getting that replay meant for the club going forward. It means we been able to make the strides forward that we have. It was a key factor in the rise of the club.”