Date:Thursday January 25 2007
Is Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho the modern-day equivalent to Brian Clough? James Robson compares the 'Special One' to Old Big 'Ead
You wonder what Brian Clough would have made of the current goings on at Chelsea.
Roman Abramovich, Peter Kenyon and Frank Arnesen would no doubt have been met with the same response as former Derby chairman Sam Longson.
In 1973, Clough reacted to boardroom interference by turning his back on the club he'd made league champions and set about creating his legend elsewhere.
Mourinho, you sense, might do likewise this summer - if not sooner.
If the Chelsea manager does decide to walk away from Stamford Bridge it would only strengthen the opinion that he is Clough's heir-apparent.
Like Nottingham Forest's favourite son, Mourinho is arrogant enough to pack it all in and go about his business of legacy-making elsewhere.
And who would doubt his ability to do so?
The Special One is every bit a 21st Century incarnation of Old Big 'Ead - sharing Clough's eye for the mischievous, as well as his brilliance as a manager.
The comparisons between the two are made as much for their cocksure bluntness and talent for giving great quote, as it is for their achievements from the touchline. But the real similarities lie in their staunch belief in the team ethic above all else.
It was that ethos that enabled Clough to turn the likes of John Robertson and Martin O'Neill into European Cup-winners with Forest, while it saw Mourinho make improbable Champions' League winners of Porto.
Forest may have boasted the first £1m player in Trevor Francis and the world's number one goalkeeper in Peter Shilton, but under Clough's reign all egos were pushed to one side - except for his, that is.
And despite Mourinho collating a who's who of global talent with Abramovich's roubles, it is a group harmony that's epitomised Chelsea's back-to-back Premiership titles under his rule.
Only in the face of outside interference have cracks begun to show in the West Londoners' unit.
As a result, a team that looked capable of dominating the Premiership for years has been destabilised.
Whether Mourinho's ego will allow the events of this season to wash over him remains to be seen. But, in truth, it will probably take a change of scenery for him to firmly establish himself among the game's greats.
Justifiably or not, the Chelsea billions will forever tarnish his reputation.
Never mind his Champions' League and UEFA Cup successes with Porto, his inability to repeat that with Abramovich's money will remain a blot on his copybook.
Critics would suggest the Premiership is a minimum requirement for Mourinho.
He may well need to build another team elsewhere to truly confirm his status - but even then it is inconceivable that Mourinho will ever find himself in the same position as Clough at Forest.
Wherever the Portuguese coach goes after Chelsea, he will be lavished with the funds to land the Champions' League.
By contrast Clough took over at the City Ground with Forest in the old second division and made double European Cup winners out of them.
Garry Birtles compares it to Barnsley conquering Europe nowadays, but comparisons cannot be made.
The gulf between the haves and have nots has never been so great.
Not even Clough could turn Barnsley into Premiership champions - let alone kings of Europe.
It may not sit well with anyone who tasted European Cup success in the 70s and 80s, but the competition has never been more difficult to win than it is right now.
For anyone to be crowned Champions' League winners this season, they will have to negotiate their way through a competition that includes the four best teams from Italy, Spain, Germany and England.
When Liverpool won in 2005 they had to overcome Juventus, Chelsea and Milan.
In 1999 Manchester United were faced with Bayern Munich twice, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Juventus.
Forest never had to overcome more torturous routes for either of their successes.
When Mourinho won with Porto in 2004 he had to outwit Real Madrid, Manchester United and Monaco.
But as unlikely champions as the Portuguese side were - they could hardly compare with the Forest sides that Clough led to success.
Mourinho may not have had the fortunes of Europe's biggest clubs, but he certainly had more than Clough.
The best sides in Europe don't necessarily win its biggest prize - but few could question Forest's status as true kings of the Continent when Clough won the trophy in successive years.
Even Mourinho's record of four league titles, the Champions' League, UEFA Cup and Carling Cup in the past four seasons struggle to compare to the magnitude of Clough's achievement.
Both Clough and Mourinho are masterful coaches and intriguing characters who you suspect would have held their own in any period.
But perhaps where the Chelsea manager comes out on top is in his ability to command respect in the current climate of player power.
At a time when the player is king, Mourinho is the undisputed king.
Even when dealing with multimillionaire players, he remains the boss - inspiring seasoned internationals like Claude Makelele, John Terry and Frank Lampard, while harnessing the prodigious talents of Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben and Petr Cech.
Clough existed at a time when he could order record signing Trevor Francis to make tea - but he would never get away with that nowadays.
One thing hasn't changed in the world of football, though, and that is the need for men in suits to meddle in football matters.
As Longson discovered, it was something Clough simply refused to tolerate.
You suspect Abramovich may find the same goes for Mourinho.
Nottingham Evening Post
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