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Nottingham Forest: The Brian Clough Years

Bolton Wanderers welcome Billy Davies’ Nottingham Forest to the Reebok Stadium on Saturday as both sides look to build on positive results in the FA Cup. With substantial backing, Forest come to the Reebok as one of the favourites for promotion and currently find themselves comfortably within the Play Off positions.

Allsport UK /Allsport

Nottingham Forest remain one of English football's most famous clubs, largely due the success the club enjoyed under the management of the legendary Brian Clough.

Clough was a manager of some renown by the time he took the reins at Nottingham Forest on January 6th 1975 having enjoyed remarkable success at neighbours Derby County, whilst also gaining celebrity status with his colourful personality.

Clough had seen his reputation damaged somewhat by his acrimonious departure from Derby, and a well-documented disastrous 44-day-tenure of Leeds United which has since been the subject of an acclaimed film production titled ‘The Damned United'.

Once installed at the helm, Clough set about realising Nottingham Forest's dream of competing at the top end of English Football. The club were in the Second Division and Clough soon guided them to an 8th place finish. In that summer Clough installed his trusted assistant Peter Taylor, who had remained at Brighton following Clough's departure to take the job at Leeds United.

With Clough and Taylor now in place, Forest had the management team they desperately wanted and as expected things began to swing in their favour. With a third place finish behind Wolverhampton and Chelsea, Forest earned promotion to the First Division, meaning that Clough had guided the club to the top flight within 18 months.

He wasted no time in changing the fortunes at the club - as the great man so memorably said:

'They say Rome wasn't built in day, but I wasn't on that particular job.'

With echoes of his time at Derby County in not dissimilar conditions, Clough's Nottingham Forest took the 1977/78 First Division by storm. He even surpassed his own magnificent debut season at County, winning the league at the first time of asking by a comfortable 7 point margin over Liverpool. In the process, Forest won an impressive 60% of their games with their miserly defence conceding around a goal every two games.

That remains the only time Forest won the English League title, however their most glorious achievements were still to come.

As English League Champions, Nottingham Forest qualified for the European Cup. In their first season in the competition, Clough led Forest all the way and lifted the famous trophy with a 1-0 win over Malmo at the Olympiastadion in Munich thanks to a trademark resilient defensive performance, which was won with a header from million pound man Trevor Francis.

Quite incredibly, Forest would repeat the feat the following year with a 1-0 victory over German club Hamburg in Madrid, thus cementing Clough's place as a legend of the English game.

Clough was also in charge of the Nottingham Forest side who faced Liverpool in an FA Cup Semi-Final in April 1989 at Hillsborough. 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives in Britain's largest Stadium disaster, which changed British football forever.

Clough and Taylor guided Nottingham Forest to top half finishes in all the remaining seasons he was at the helm aside from their final year, where they finished bottom in the inaugural Premier League season, and suffered relegation to the First Division.

Clough won three other trophies in his time at Nottingham Forest, including successive League Cup wins in 1989 and 1990 accompanied by a Full Members Cup win in 1992.

After 18 years at the helm, Clough left Forest at the end of the 1992/93 season, following the aforementioned relegation, but his legacy will remain at the club forever.

His achievements have since been immortalised with a statue in Nottingham City Centre.

Though Brian Clough passed away in September 2004, he is, to this day, widely regarded as 'The greatest manager England never had' and famously said on the matter:

'I'm sure the England selectors thought if they took me on and gave me the job, I'd want to run the show.

They were shrewd because that's exactly what I would have done.