‘Simply a genius’
BRIAN Clough, in the eyes of Roy Keane, is quite simply a “genius.”
Ipswich Town’s boss admits that he wouldn’t be where he is today, without the presence of Clough in his footballing career.
And although those sentiments won’t count for much, when Keane returns to Clough’s beloved Nottingham Forest tomorrow afternoon, the Irishman will always have huge respect for his old manager.
“You feel the man in the building, when you walk down the corridors,” said Keane.
“You could also sense that at Derby, the mark he left there, even though it’s a different ground. Top people leave their mark on a place, and then they move on.
“But can you imagine trying to be like Brian Clough? It’s impossible, because the man was a genius.
“You’ve got to be your own man,” said Keane.
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Town will be looking to register three wins on the trot for the first time this season, at third-placed Forest tomorrow, following back-to-back victories over Reading and Derby.
That’s what Keane will be focusing on, although the spectre of Clough will never be far away – as a young midfielder, Keane enjoyed three years at the City Ground.
“I remember my three years with him, the way he looked after me and the way he dealt with me,” recalled Keane.
“Even before my debut at Liverpool, all he said was pass it to a red shirt – we were playing in red that night. Pass to one of your team-mates and move. And I did that for the next 17 or 18 years.
“He kept everything so simple, though maybe he just did that with me, because maybe that was all I could understand!” joked Keane.
Forest’s current boss, Billy Davies, has worked wonders to sustain a promotion bid this season, although they have dropped out of the race for one of the two automatic slots in recent weeks.
They are 11 points adrift of second-placed West Brom, with just four games remaining, so they are resigned to the nervous play-offs.
Certainly, it is unlikely that the great days of Clough will ever return to the City Ground.
“You look at what he achieved, unbelieveable,” insisted Keane.
“It’s scary, to win the European Cup back-to-back. I don’t think we’ll ever appreciate what he did.”
Keane also described how Clough, the personality, worked, especially with his love for the unconventional.
“I remember going to Norwich one time,” recalled Keane.
“Ten minutes from the ground, he made us get off the bus and walk! We had to walk to the match with all the Norwich supporters. That was him. Off the cuff.
“He also used to kiss people every now and then. He used to punch me, but he used to kiss everybody else!” said Keane wryly.