I can’t see any good coming from this. And I can’t see why he did it: after ten years at Burton, he was on the verge of taking them into the Football League. What an amazing, extraordinary achievement to helicopter yourself out from. Yes, his wages will be higher, yes, he won’t have to travel far, so his family life will be relatively unaffected. But everything else about his decision is wrong.
The simple fact that his father won a League Championship with Derby is reason enough to stay away. It would be a romantic tale for the tabloids should he even establish them in the Premier League, but football in the real world isn’t like this. On the whole, fairytales don’t happen. Hoddle at Spurs, anyone? And Hoddle already had an excellent managerial track record at the top level. And why, for goodness sake, doesn’t Clough want his own story – why doesn’t he wait, like Martin O’Neill did, for a club that wasn’t haunted by the memories of his father?
Derby are in an absolutely awful state at present. If Paul Jewell couldn’t pull them out of their downward slide, then I wonder who could. It’s a dreadful moment to arrive. I’d always have recommended a desperate club to Clough, but not one worried by the combined prospect of bankruptcy and relegation. When O’Neill took over at Villa, they were desperate enough to throw him complete control, but not desperate in terms of finances or league position. If Derby are relegated, they are likely to be one division higher than Burton next season, and in a less stable position financially.
This is not to be taken as an anti-Derby rant. There must be a manager out there with the knowledge and personality to keep them up and take them on. It’s just – the surname Clough, for Derby now, is an albatross and a red herring and all kinds of other bad things. The past can’t help the club.
Nor is this an aspersion on the Burton manager’s abilties. But Martin O’Neill waited for the right offer, repeatedly, and look at him now. Managers need the right club, at the right time, and this isn’t it. For Derby, this situation calls for a Kinnear, not a Clough.
No. I’m really very disappointed and sorry at his decision. How sane, until now, Clough’s management career had seemed. He’d begun in the right place, and created something genuine, something he will not now see through to its conclusion. His father always regretted leaving Derby. I fear his son will regret ever having arrived.