REGULAR readers of ViewFromTheJohnStreet.com will know that Nigel Clough is not on the Christmas card list. Enough has emerged about his singularly divisive managerial reign at Bramall Lane to justify the criticism and, indeed, Sheffield United's decision to sack him.
But credit where credit is due and Clough recently took the difficult but honourable decision to reject Nottingham Forest's job offer and remain at Burton Albion.
The pull of managing Championship Forest, the spiritual home where he made 412 appearances and scored 131 goals must have been immense. It was where dad Brian clinched two successive European Cup triumphs, to this day surely the greatest achievement in club football. Some may argue that was eclipsed by Leicester City winning the Premier League title but Forest's continental adventures of the late 1970s remains up there for me.
A cynic might say chaotic ownership issues at the City Ground may have convinced Clough to steer clear in favour of the cosy relationship he enjoys with Burton chairman Ben Robinson. A partnership forged during Clough's first job in management which spanned 10 years. He led the Brewers from the Northern Premier League to the brink of the Footballl League before quitting to manage Derby County where dad, Brian, also won the old Division One title.
Almost certainly that was part of the equation and there is informed speculation the door may have been left open for Clough to make a switch in the summer. Former Blades Gary Brazil, who has fulfilled a caretaker role at Forest before, and under-23s coach Jack Lester are in temporary charge. But nonetheless the man who rejoined Burton seven months after being dismissed by the Blades and finished what Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink had started last season to clinch promotion to the Championship, chose not to leave Burton in the lurch for a second time.
Clough did meet Forest’s controversial Kuwaiti owner Fawaz Al Hasawi but concluded he could not quit Burton in the midst of a relegation fight.
"I cannot tell you how attractive a proposition it is to go to Nottingham Forest but it's not the right time or the right thing to do,” he said. "It was choosing a matter of principle. It was loyalty not to jump ship mid-season with the position we [Burton] are in."
Chairman Robinson is not so impressed by public loyalty in the Staffordshire town. The Brewers have the lowest average home attendance in the Championship, 4,925. Only a small increase on last season when they averaged 4,089 on their way to the League One title. Capacity at the Pirelli Stadium is 6,912.
Robinson said: “That has been the big disappointment for me – the lack of support from the town. Week in and week out we should be getting a lot more support considering we are playing in the Championship for the first time in the club's history.”
Forest did manage to secure another Clough, 21-year-old striker Zach. Great news for Sheffield United fans. His move, believed to be worth £3million, eased financial worries at the Macron Stadium but came as a huge blow on the pitch to Bolton Wanderers, the Blades League One promotion rivals.
Clough, played a major role for the Trotters, whom boss Phil Parkinson described as “the jewel in the crown”. He scored nine goals for them this season before moving in the final hours of the January transfer window