Derby donkeys, or is the manager an ass?

Like father, like son. Brian Clough was admired for his achievements as player and manager, but divided opinion with his plain speaking. Now Nigel, battling with the rigours of management, finds himself in hot water for intemperate comments on some of his Derby squad. Jeremy Taylor,
pictured right, reports …

Theo Walcott’s recent confession about his dive against Leeds Utd spawned the article written here by M Salut – and a flood of responses.

It has been a thoroughly interesting debate.

And whether it be diving, pushing or pulling shirts, it is clear that cheating has become part of a modern game that seems to have lost its sense of decency and honesty.

Is it because there’s too much money at stake these days? Who knows? But Theo Walcott’s statement is the exception that proves the rule that instances of frankness and honesty are these days rare.

Young Theo’s is arguably the most notable example in recent times. It’s quite a while since Robbie Fowler informed a referee that his fall in the box at Highbury was not a penalty. Fowler was criticised at the time by some, although praised elsewhere for his integrity. The same may apply to Walcott.

Interestingly, Derby County’s boss Nigel Clough has been criticised by the PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor following comments about his striker Tomasz Cywka after he gave the ball away in the last minute of County’s game against Portsmouth, allowing David Nugent to equalise. According to Taylor, Clough’s public rebuke for the 22-year-old player was misplaced.

Cloughie the Younger had referred to his striker, who joined the Rams last summer from WIgan, as “not very bright”.

“We’d like some players who – in the 89th minute – don’t lose the ball 20 yards outside the box which leads to us conceding a goal, which Tomasz Cywka did,” the clearly irritated Cough is quoted as saying on the BBC Sport website.

“He’s an extremely inexperienced and not very bright footballer. He should have chested the ball and hooked it into the corner flag with five minutes to go. That’s what experienced, good players do in that situation. And despite being told – and he has been with us 10 months – he is still doing things like that. He can go back to Wigan or wherever he came from – I’m not really bothered – until he learns the game.

“It is getting very, very frustrating when you are dealing with people who are doing things like that. It’s not a physical thing – it’s a mental one but if players don’t learn then you move onto the next one.”

But while Clough’s comments about the dim-wittedness of his forward have attracted much media attention, Cywka was not the only player on the wrong end of a tongue lashing. A Derbu defender, Miles Addison, and substitute, Chris Porter, also found themselves in the firing line. “If you’re Chris Porter and you’ve come on for the last 20 minutes after being left out, I’d have thought you would be throwing absolutely everything at that,” said Clough.

“Miles Addison had come up from the back and having made that 50-yard run to get there, you would have thought he would throw absolutely everything at it too.”

Nigel Clough is having a tough time as Derby boss, and has even been described as a “dead man walking” by some contributors to Derby blog sites. His recent record is not that great and he is clearly frustrated by some of his players’ lack of nous and attitude.

I am sure many of the Derby fans share his frustration and may be saying the same things themselves about the same players. That is their prerogative. Cywaka in the meantime says he has “no problem” with his boss’s comments, a quote that may be less than entirely sincere.

Nigel Clough is being incredibly honest and forthright, but the question is whether such honesty in naming and shaming players is his prerogative too.

10 thoughts on “Derby donkeys, or is the manager an ass?”

  1. Thanks very much for your kind comments Erroll. Much appreciated. We welcome fans of other clubs to this forum. Please call back to Salut soon.

    You are dead right. Frustration has clearly got the better of Nigel Clough and dealing with intellectually challenged players is part and parcel of being a gaffer. I like the lad, and I idolised his Dad, but management at this level may not be for him. That’s a shame if it turns out that way as he has a lot of great qualities that benefit the game.

    We may end up playing you next season Erroll. If so maybe you can get in touch with M.Salut to do the “Who are you?” article?

  2. Congrats Jeremy. This is a great article. I am a QPR supporter and this is the first time I have heard this story. I remember back to August and Derby throwing away a win against QPR after conceding 2 goals in stoppage time to draw. They played on instead of wasting time and Neil Warnock jokingly said we were the best team after 90 minutes.

    I can see how Nigel Clough can get frustrated over a season by all the little incidents but criticising the players publicly only creates unrest within the dressing room. He has devalued the assets of Derby County at a time when the club as whole is devalued by the performances on the pitch. If he loses his job he should consider whether these comments were an admission of his own failings as a manager.

    PS. Derby County, great fans and I wish we had your stadium!

  3. Thanks to you Mr Taylor for speaking sense in your customary manner!

    Political correctness has gone start raving mad. Nobody has commented on the fact that this dim witted youngster has been a complete blurt by giving a goal away. No the media have focused on Mr Clough’s comments with the expectation that he will be harangued for his refreshing honesty, in a culture which implicitly forbids the reprimanding of the guilty.

    I remember that one of our old bosses, Mick Buxton who allegedly whalloped players in the dressing room when they upset him. I remember the carry on when Mr Clough Snr clipped a pitch invader round the lug! If he hadn’t been on the field it wouldn’t have happened, and if this daft young Polish striker hadn’t been such a numpty then Nigel wouldn’t have had to castigate him the way he did. They are in the public eye and are not immune from criticism from the boss.

  4. Absolutely, BB. There comes a time when you have to say what you think without worrying about who hears it. It’s far more easy for a player to shrug off a behind-closed-doors bollocking. Less so when you know tens of thousands of people will be watching to see if you’ve learned anything.

    I’m not sure if Clough Sr. would have struggled particularly in today’s footballing climate. He wouldn’t have been popular with a lot of footballers (or fans for that matter). There again, he never was and it didn’t bother him. And I like to think that any team he managed wouldn’t have a single diver in the squad.

  5. It’s about time you lot got a grip. Mr Clough should be given a medal for his frankness. For far too long players have got away with murder on a Saturday afternoon, when they deserve a public bollocking for their efforts or lack of it.

    Well done Mr Clough for coming out and telling it like it is! I bet your fans love you for it! Your Dad would be proud of you, young man!


  6. I’ve added the words “pictured right” in case anyone else couldn’t work it out!

    I found a good photo of Nigel Clough at the Creative Commons – ie OK to use – part of Flickr but all means of grabbing it had been disabled oddly enough. Got to be careful …

    On the point Jeremy makes, it is high-risk strategy for sure even if merited. Also, the guarantee that the last five minutes of each game would be played out beside the corner flag of the team that’s behind, or needing to do better than draw, would be another reason – see Stoke threads – to give up the will to watch football.

  7. Clough seems a good bloke it is definitley not godd man management to pull your players over the coals in the public eye. Have your say and let the player be in no doubt what you think but in private. I am continuously amazed by Neil Lennon his interviews seem meanacing and verging on an underlining bigotry which is sinister and disturbing, I realise this was probably ingrained into him be surely he has had time to readjust and get over this. I find him offensive and sickening

  8. It’s funny that you should say that Bill (Taylor). I was also expecting to see a picture of Nigel Clough. I am not the manager of Derby County either or I may have been in hot water for saying something much more vitriolic than Nigel did!

    Thanks Bill (of England) for the kind words. Very much appreciated.

    I have some concerns about NC’s comments. Not because they were potentially unjustified, but more because of the damage that they may do to him. I’ve always maintained that Clough Snr would have struggled to manage these days with the attitude of players, huge earnings and political correctness etc. It seems to me that Nigel is a chip off the old block. He’s always come across as a very decent and intelligent fellah. His father was my idol as both man and boy. but I think his style, which ruffled feathers back in the day would not be acceptable to a lot of people these days (not to me!).

    Nigel has spoken very openly and honestly about players who he feels has let his side down. They’ve let the fans down too. He’s only said what a lot of their own fans were saying as they left the ground. People aren’t supposed to have opinions these days, or at least are preferred to keep their counsel.

    As Ian (T) commented on the blackcats list, the irony seems to have been lost on Gordon Taylor when he publically criticized Nigel for publically criticizing his “not so bright” striker!

    People in glass houses should desist from rock throwing.

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