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

Hulu zero dark thirty Pet Sematary Drama casting Anna Paquin TBS cooking Trophy Talk History CW Seed LGBT Comics on TV Year in Review Calendar Fox News New York Comic Con Comedy Central YA President richard e. Grant television RT History Netflix Ovation Biopics Video Games NBC Super Bowl transformers Starz Spike talk show Spring TV The Arrangement sitcom docudrama Freeform mockumentary See It Skip It travel period drama biography zombie MCU 2017 Women's History Month Western MSNBC Disney Channel Trivia SDCC GLAAD Certified Fresh Awards Tour Mary Tyler Moore Heroines Epix USA IFC YouTube Premium Winter TV Infographic natural history TCA TCA 2017 dc CBS TV Land anthology Marathons 24 frames Walt Disney Pictures Paramount Toys Reality Competition Esquire Tomatazos diversity Kids & Family DC Comics AMC binge disaster Action crime thriller FX A&E Mindy Kaling Sony Pictures Horror Star Trek toy story Premiere Dates Pirates doctor who 2016 theme song based on movie DC Universe nature Film Festival E3 jamie lee curtis National Geographic Marvel streaming Black Mirror anime singing competition El Rey Musical Christmas Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Creative Arts Emmys VH1 true crime science fiction spinoff ABC adventure Tarantino Mystery Photos RT21 Warner Bros. Nominations BBC San Diego Comic-Con medical drama psycho Rocketman golden globes CBS All Access Watching Series NYCC Quiz HBO Max crime drama TIFF romance Comedy Bravo discovery Emmy Nominations facebook Logo vampires aliens Vudu spy thriller spider-man Captain marvel war strong female leads Superheroe Set visit WGN 2015 Thanksgiving Paramount Network Opinion Countdown Schedule social media Awards composers LGBTQ Podcast hist 2018 game show Reality dragons USA Network Shondaland Mudbound Oscars animated Spectrum Originals TV Tumblr justice league robots Lucasfilm supernatural Mary Poppins Returns Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Brie Larson Sundance Now Adult Swim TLC Acorn TV Pixar Food Network Valentine's Day sports The Witch Extras Interview BET Syfy what to watch mutant dceu ESPN Stephen King Amazon Chernobyl Showtime Sundance dramedy thriller Lifetime sequel OWN police drama miniseries Sci-Fi WarnerMedia DGA ABC Family Sneak Peek 45 Superheroes crime serial killer Holidays First Look SundanceTV Cosplay crossover space Winners Pride Month GoT boxoffice 21st Century Fox Martial Arts SXSW elevated horror Crackle Mary poppins GIFs Country Universal politics cops Character Guide E! Red Carpet FXX Rocky witnail cinemax Cannes Amazon Prime historical drama Apple harry potter Dark Horse Comics Nat Geo American Society of Cinematographers 007 comiccon 2019 Writers Guild of America technology Comic Book BBC America ratings Song of Ice and Fire The CW Emmys political drama DirecTV Fall TV X-Men cats Masterpiece YouTube Red Best and Worst green book comic Britbox TCM psychological thriller DC streaming service CMT PBS 20th Century Fox Rock Cartoon Network CNN Polls and Games adaptation Musicals Elton John Lionsgate Star Wars Disney blaxploitation finale Grammys Fantasy unscripted Election Shudder award winner PaleyFest festivals Rom-Com Music Pop TNT Animation Trailer Columbia Pictures Box Office FOX ITV teaser Nickelodeon Ghostbusters zombies Teen Ellie Kemper MTV IFC Films cults Summer TruTV VICE HBO APB