As Sheffield United prepare to launch their 125th anniversary celebrations, Nigel Clough has spoken of his pride at being appointed manager of such an historic club.
The former England international has been in situ for only five short months but, as he revealed why he was tempted back into the game so soon after leaving Derby County, it quickly became apparent that Bramall Lane’s offer was impossible to refuse.
Not because of finance or geography. Rather, as Clough outlined earlier this month, because, despite their League One status, United boast huge stature and prestige.
“Not too many places would have enticed us back into the game so quickly,” he admitted ahead of Saturday’s fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“We were planning on taking a bit of a break but all that changed when the chance to come here arose.
“The plan was to take a little while out and spend some time with our families. As everyone knows, of course, it didn’t quite work out like that.
“But even the wife accepted that this was right.”
Mrs Clough’s suspicions were proved correct when, nearly a fortnight ago, she watched United reach next month’s FA Cup semi-finals by beating Charlton Athletic in front of a 30,000-strong crowd.
It was an afternoon of drama and raw emotion which, despite possessing none of the pomp and ceremony set to surround the fixture with Kenny Jackett’s side, laid bare what consistent success could achieve.
“I think that match, perhaps more than any other, confirmed the potential here,” Clough continued. “We always knew that anyway and were excited about it when we first came in.
“It’s also an incentive because we want more days like that. That’s the type of occasion we want to be involved in every week if possible and, if we get to where we want to be, then we will be.
“But it’s going to take a lot of hard work and determination. You don’t get handed anything on a plate in this business.
“There’s no entitlement. You don’t automatically get what you think you deserve.
“But that just underlined that there are good people here, both on and off the pitch - people who are prepared to show all of those qualities to try to make sure it happens.”
Clough’s background means his words carry weight. Son of the legendary Brian, who delivered two European Cups to Nottingham Forest and is widely recognised as the greatest manager England never had, the 48-year-old was surrounded by football from an early age.
Now a respected and accomplished professional in his own right, Clough represented the likes of Liverpool and
Manchester City before retiring as a player. He has experienced both sides of the game, having cut his coaching teeth at Burton Albion before being lured to County where his father also excelled.
Together with trusted lieutenents Andy Garner, Gary Crosby, Chris Morgan and Darren Ward, Clough has been responsible for putting a smile back on United faces following a wretched start to the campaign which, as one stage, seemed destined to end in relegation.
Recent results, not least the 2-0 victory over Charlton, have ensured Saturday’s celebrations should go with a bang rather than a whimper. But do not expect Clough to take centre stage.
“It’s all about the players,” he said. “They are the ones who execute what we try and tell them to do out on the pitch. They are the ones who make it all come together.
“You’ve got to be happy to make sure that happens. And, hopefully, people can see that we are a happy club.”