The Damned United

Posted: August 22, 2010 in Films
Tags: , , , ,

Starring: Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, Jim Broadbent

Director: Tom Hooper

Year: 2009

Brian Clough was a one-off, a God within football and an outspoken old big’ead. No matter which team you supported, you couldn’t help but marvel over his controversial comments, his fantastic managerial qualities and his amazing success and passion for the game.

This film focuses on the controversy that surrounded Cloughie’s famous 44 day reign at Leeds United.  The players and management despised him and the fans hated him.  It’s well documented that Brian thought the Leeds players were nothing but cheats, and he doesn’t make this a secret on his first day of being manager, famously telling them all to throw away their trophies and their medals because they didn’t win them fairly.  This is all evident in the film, and soon after this incident, the players take their frustrations out on Clough in training, with one going in with a crunching slide tackle.  It wasn’t what I would call the greatest first day on the job.

Based on the novel of the same name, The Damned United is a great football film for all fans alike. Sheen is perfect for the role as Clough, capturing his body language remarkably well and if you were to close your eyes you would think the person talking on-screen was the great man himself. It is fantastic acting by Sheen who is one of the best English talents around.

Derby County and Leeds United feature heavily, but Nottingham Forest – the club Cloughie had the most success with features briefly towards the end of the film. It is made up of a wonderful video montage that pays tribute to the real Clough very well, and certainly makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Unless you’re a Derby County fan of course.

Timothy Spall doesn’t disappoint as Brian’s assistant Peter Taylor and he helps show the different sides to Clough’s character.  If you love football then this is the perfect film for you with it being one of the greatest football films to date. Even if you’re not much of a fan, the film will still draw you in as Cloughie’s dry humour is on display throughout, with all of his best quotes in full force, leaving room for some laugh out loud moments.

It is a controversial film, focusing on Clough’s troubles more than his success, but certainly worth the watch.


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