Brian Clough had a magician’s touch. Not in a creepy way, he just had a knack for turning a middling football club into champions. You’ll know him from Michael Sheen’s portrayal in ‘The Damned United’, and this documentary picks up where that left off. Clough has left Leeds and been lumped with managing Second Division Nottingham Forest. Getting them promoted to the top division would be impressive enough, but this film isn’t called ‘I Believe in Miracles’ for nothing: Cloughie took Forest all the way to the top, winning the league and then the European Cup. Twice!
The story is told by Forest greats like Viv Anderson, Martin O’Neill and Ian Bowyer, all set to a disco soundtrack. They’re an affable bunch, full of anecdotes and bonhomie. It almost makes you long for the 1970s. But the story feels only half told. The team’s defeats are glossed over, it’s all peak and no trough. You don’t hear from any rivals. Where are the Liverpool or Malmö players, amazed by Forest’s brilliance?
The film is still a compelling watch, though – largely because this couldn’t happen today. It’s too easy to romanticise ’70s football with all its mud, fights, fags and booze. But what was really special about that time was the fact that a team like Forest could go from zeros to heroes in the blink of an eye. Impossible in this day and age. This was about glory, pure and simple. Glory and miracles.