The Damned United

  • Directors: Tom Hooper
  • Producers: Andy Harries, Grainne Marmion
  • Writers: Peter Morgan, David Peace
  • Genres: Drama, Sport
  • Actors: Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Colm Meaney, Timothy Spall

After failing to qualify for the 1974 World Cup, England manager Alf Ramsey is sacked and replaced by Don Revie, the highly successful manager of Leeds United. Revie is replaced at Leeds by Brian Clough, a former manager of Derby County and a fierce critic of Leeds’s style of play under Revie. Much attention is called to the fact that Clough’s longtime assistant, Peter Taylor, has not joined him at Leeds, and Clough claims in an interview to Yorkshire Television that the team cannot possibly have been happy under Revie, due to the violent and physical nature of their game.

The roots of Clough’s conflict with Revie are depicted as happening in a 1967 FA Cup match between Leeds, who were then leading the First Division (though they did not win it that season) and Derby, who were struggling near the bottom of the Second Division. Clough assumes Revie to be a similar man to himself, owing to the fact that they grew up in the same part of Middlesbrough; come the day of the match however, Revie either ignores Clough or fails to make him out in the crowd upon entering Derby’s Baseball Ground stadium. The match proves to be a tough affair, and despite their best efforts Derby lose 2–0 to Leeds.[1] Clough initially blames the brutality of the Leeds players, but he and Taylor recognise that their side simply aren’t good enough on a technical level and so remedy the problem by signing veteran Dave Mackay, along with several other young players. The club’s frugal chairman, Sam Longson is extremely anxious about the investment and more so the fact that Clough didn’t bother to consult him about signing Mackay. However, Derby win the Second Division title in 1969, and the following season once more face up to Leeds, the defending First Division champions… and promptly lose 5–0.

In the film’s epilogue, the audience is told that Don Revie proved a complete failure as an England manager, and afterwards never worked in football in his home country again, spending the rest of his career working in the Middle East. Brian Clough and Peter Taylor meanwhile reunited at Nottingham Forest, where he repeated his prior achievements with Derby by taking them up and winning the First Division, and this time bettered both Revie and his own spell at Derby by winning two European Cups in succession. The film ends by branding Clough “the best manager that the English national side never had.”

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