The Damned United - A Photo Primer

by | March 27, 2009 | Comments

Damned United

Back in 1970s, before the Premiership, Sky TV and WAGS came to characterise the beautiful game, football managers were almost exclusively gruff Northerners who smoked 60 a day and avoided publicity like the plague. That is part from Brian Clough, perhaps the most charismatic, media-savvy and complex manager to have graced the sport. The film tells the story of the most bizarre spell of his otherwise illustrious career, but for those not up on their 70s football, here’s our frankly indispensible visual guide to The Damned United.

Damned United

The man himself played by the current master of the celebrity impersonation, Michael Sheen. A legendary figure because of his charismatic personality and plethora of one-liners, it’s also sometimes forgotten just how successful Clough actually was in his prime in the late 60s and 70s.

Damned United

The movie revolves around Clough’s ill-fated spell in charge of Leeds United. At this point they were the league champions and one of the best teams in Europe. He is seen here being welcomed by fans, but the manager soon made enemies after making it clear how much he still despised the club. Much of the David Peace’s novel (the source material for the film) is made up of psychological speculation as to why Clough took the job — did he want to destroy the club from the inside? Did he deliberately sabotage his time there to somehow punish himself for accepting the role?

Damned United

The main reason for Clough’s hatred was former Leeds manger Don Revie (seen here played sinisterly by Colm Meanie). The film opens with Revie somewhat reluctantly leaving his job to take over the England national team. The team Revie built was extremely successful (they won every trophy going except the European cup) but were despised by many — especially Clough — for their negative play, arrogance, and cynical attitude towards the game. Leg-breaking tackles and referee intimidation were just some of the tactics espoused by Revie.

Damned United

In contrast, Clough’s managerial style was good football (“If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he’d have put grass up there” is a famous Clough-ism) and gentlemanly behaviour on and off the pitch. Clough built his reputation with this management style whilst he was in charge at Derby County. The film moves back and forth between his time at Leeds and this highly successfully spell at the Midlands’ club. We see here his Derby side taking on Revie’s brutal Leeds in their first year in the first division. Amazingly, despite having just been promoted, Derby would go onto win the league, just pipping Leeds themselves to the title.

Damned United

Clough’s genius lay in his man-management, which — usually in conjunction with assistant manager Peter Taylor — varied from arms-around-the-shoulder empathy to full on hysterical bollockings, depending on the situation and the players’ personalities. This approach, however, failed miserably when he got to Leeds, and he had to try and tame Revie’s players, especially the likes of (from left to right) Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and Trevor Cherry. He alienated them from the beginning by famously telling them, “you won all your medals by cheating.”

Damned United

Probably the most important factor in Clough’s nightmare spell at Leeds however was the failure of his longtime assistant, Peter Taylor, played by Timothy Spall in the movie, to move up north and join him at the club. One of the greatest talent-spotters the game’s ever seen, he was also the only person to say “no” to Clough. They had a complex relationship, however, with the quiet and taciturn Taylor constantly feeling undervalued and underappreciated compared to the flashy Clough. The pair eventually acrimoniously parted ways for good whilst at Nottingham Forest in 1982. Clough never won a major Trophy without Taylor by his side.

Damned United

The film switches back to Clough’s time at Derby late in the film, and shows how his combustible personality and distrust of authority lost him (and Peter Taylor) their jobs. Constantly clashing with County chairman Sam Longson (a suitably slimy performance from Jim Broadbent), who resented Clough’s fame and influence, he eventually resigned due to perceived boardroom interference – though he was just using this a ploy to get Longson sacked, and never believed his resignation would be accepted.

Damned United

One of the final set pieces of the movie is a joint interview Clough did for Yorkshire TV after his sacking from Leeds with Don Revie. The real-life broadcast went down in football history for the barely repressed loathing and disgust both men showed towards each other, with Clough telling Revie “I wanted to win the league, but I wanted to win it better!” Clough would go onto win two European cups with Nottingham Forest, whilst Revie would fail as England manager.

The Damned United is released today in the UK and on 13th August in Australia. The US release is to be confirmed.

Tag Cloud

docudrama Paramount Extras 2017 historical drama crime thriller Opinion Lucasfilm Election TNT PaleyFest supernatural police drama OWN Mindy Kaling Mystery LGBTQ National Geographic E3 Sci-Fi 20th Century Fox medical drama Holidays NYCC Winter TV politics The CW Rock biography Winners Christmas Video Games CMT TCM ratings X-Men Animation technology Country CBS All Access Trailer Amazon crime Marathons Showtime spy thriller Kids & Family sitcom Reality Competition Biopics hist Countdown Esquire VH1 Logo Comedy Western Disney Pop APB NBC travel SundanceTV Comic Book psycho robots Dark Horse Comics SDCC Universal adventure Lifetime GLAAD cults President Lionsgate BBC America Masterpiece Ovation Reality Summer Musical Teen vampires Martial Arts Bravo Comedy Central GoT BET Writers Guild of America Superheroe Thanksgiving war what to watch TLC Cosplay YouTube Premium Nominations First Look composers dramedy crossover Apple Rom-Com Red Carpet cats diversity Shondaland Certified Fresh E! Calendar Podcast DC streaming service Spike DirecTV Hulu FX transformers YouTube Red Columbia Pictures 45 Walt Disney Pictures PBS zombie 2016 FXX El Rey Awards Spring TV 24 frames IFC Films CW Seed DC Comics RT History romance political drama GIFs Warner Bros. Tumblr WGN Ghostbusters Set visit Star Trek science fiction Photos comiccon TCA 2017 Fox News dceu aliens Drama Schedule Starz Character Guide TIFF Acorn TV Paramount Network dc unscripted ABC Fall TV Toys Fantasy TBS Netflix Action FOX ESPN Disney Channel festivals serial killer Superheroes See It Skip It Sundance Now USA TruTV Food Network CBS Musicals VICE Grammys cinemax singing competition zombies HBO Valentine's Day History CNN Watching Series period drama justice league DC Universe BBC binge A&E Marvel Rocky mutant harry potter cooking sports Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ABC Family blaxploitation TV Oscars ITV Year in Review crime drama Freeform Syfy Super Bowl TCA Polls and Games YA Box Office 007 Sony Pictures Pixar Pirates social media Music thriller SXSW TV Land USA Network MSNBC Adult Swim Crackle IFC American Society of Cinematographers Sundance The Arrangement Creative Arts Emmys Infographic Premiere Dates Ellie Kemper Horror Trivia Nickelodeon Best and Worst talk show MTV streaming AMC cops Britbox Sneak Peek Emmys 21st Century Fox Star Wars Interview Tomatazos finale Mary Tyler Moore 2015 Cartoon Network boxoffice based on movie golden globes Nat Geo discovery