NIGEL CLOUGH APPOINTED AS NEW MANAGER
Stags appoint Nigel Clough
mansfieldtown.net, Friday 06 November 2020
Mansfield Town is delighted to announce the appointment of Nigel Clough as its new manager.
Mr. Clough, who has signed a contract at One Call Stadium until June 2023, is joined by assistant manager Gary Crosby and Simon Clough as head of recruitment.
Mr. Clough joins the Stags after spells in charge of Derby County, Sheffield United and Burton Albion.
As a player, he made over 300 league appearances for Nottingham Forest, becoming the second highest scorer in Forest’s history, before moving to Liverpool in 1993.
Mr. Clough also spent time with Manchester City and Burton Albion as a player, in a career that saw him make 14 caps for England.
His managerial career started with non-league Burton Albion in 1998, and after steady progress in each of his first three seasons, the Brewers were crowned champions of the Northern Premier League in his fourth term at the helm.
Burton were on course to earn promotion to the Football League for the first time in their history in the 2008/09 season, as Mr. Clough led them to the top of the Conference table, which included a run of 11 straight victories along the way.
He moved to Championship outfit Derby County in 2009, leaving a table-topping Burton side who would eventually go on to secure their Football League status in that season.
Derby had fears of relegation before Nigel Clough took charge, but the now-54-year-old improved the club’s form and finished 14th in his first full term, four places higher than the previous campaign.
In 2011/12, he led the Rams to their best start to a season in 106 years, as they began their campaign with four victories from four.
He joined Sheffield United in 2013, and despite the Blades sitting in the relegation zone when he took charge, they ended the campaign seventh in League One.
Sheffield United also became the first third-tier side to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup since 2001, a run which included victories over Premier League outfits Aston Villa and Fulham. This success led to Mr. Clough being named as the FA Cup Manager of the Year.
Nigel Clough returned to Burton Albion in 2015, guiding the Brewers to the Championship for the first time in their history.
Chairman John Radford and co-chairwoman Carolyn Radford said: “Nigel has an outstanding pedigree in football and a proven track record of significantly improving the teams he has managed.
“He brings 20 years’ managerial experience to the club and can provide the stability and leadership which we require at One Call Stadium.
“Our chief executive, David Sharpe, led the process of selecting our next manager and we, along with the board of directors, unanimously approved when Nigel was recommended.
“We consider Nigel’s appointment to be a real coup for Mansfield Town and he will have our full and unwavering support.”
Stags’ job a ‘very good opportunity,’ says new manager
mansfieldtown.net, Friday 06 November 2020
New Stags' boss Nigel Clough says that the ‘potential’ of Mansfield Town makes his new role as manager a ‘very exciting’ opportunity.
The former Derby County, Sheffield United and Burton Albion chief was announced as the amber and blue’s new manager on Friday afternoon.
The 54-year-old says that his first priority as manager is to help the Stags climb the Sky Bet League Two table.
“I think that the potential that the club has got going forward is very exciting indeed,” he told iFollow Stags.
“I think everything is set up to take the club to at least the next level. It’s a very good opportunity to try and achieve that.
“These things take time. We started at Burton over 22 years ago - we scraped up into the Conference and had a few years just surviving in the conference.
“We then built a side that got into the play-offs, and left them 15-16 points clear in the Conference and then they made it to the Football League.
“We then returned when they were on the brink of the Championship and we had two amazing years in the Championship.
“It’s about good decisions, working well with owners and looking after their finances as if they are your own. We try not to waste money and we try to get good people in the football club.
“Burton were a couple of leagues below [when I took charge] to where we [Mansfield] are now - no disrespect to Burton, everyone will accept that Mansfield are a bigger club.
“That gives us a greater potential. We have some work to do and the first priority is to get up the league [table].”
Nigel Clough says that he will expect ‘maximum effort’ from his players when they take to the pitch, and also discussed the style with which his side will play.
“I’ll be honest with the players and be fair with them,” he added. “The one thing we expect from them is absolute maximum effort every time they step onto the pitch.
“Generally, we’ve always had a very good relationship with the majority of players that we’ve worked with.
“We’d like to build up those sorts of relationships with the current players.
“I like to play football - home and away. We like to attack as much as we can. There are certainly times where you have to defend and do it well, but generally speaking, we set out our teams to attack.
“Supporters pay good money and we want to entertain them. Even if they can’t get into the ground, they’re still paying to watch it via the streams. So, we want to put on the best performances we can.
“We’re going to do everything we can to get the club into a much better position than it is now, but try and be patient with us. We’re going to try and build a team and build a squad that the supporters can identify with and enjoy watching.”
The new Stags’ boss says he has watched the last two Mansfield fixtures, and was impressed by the performances on show under caretaker manager Richard Cooper.
“It [Mansfield team] looks a good squad on paper. It hasn’t worked out in the last few months.
“All the players start now on a fresh page and we’ll judge them from here on in. There looks to be a good squad in place and I believe there is room to strengthen it in January, which we will look to do.
“In the next two months, the priority is getting results, but also getting results as well.
“We sneaked in to watch the game on Saturday on Walsall and we were very impressed with the performance.
“Gary [Crosby, assistant manager] went to watch the game at Bolton, and can say exactly the same. We spoke to the players and told them, without doing too much different, it could have been six points [against Walsall and Bolton].
“All we have to do is turn those draws into wins, and get up that table. I think Richard Cooper [caretaker manager] and the lads have done brilliant with lifting the team.
“The last two performances have been very good and we just need to keep that going.”
Although caretaker manager Richard Cooper will take charge of Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup First Round fixture away at Sunderland, Nigel Clough says he will attend the match to assess the performance.
“It’s a seriously bizarre coincidence to be able to go back to Sunderland, with it being my hometown and everything,” he explained.
“Although we didn’t live there very long, it was certainly a place that was very special to my dad. He really enjoyed playing football there, as well as Middlesbrough.
“It [Stadium of Light] is one of the best stadiums in the country - I really wish there could be a crowd there, because it can be a hell of an atmosphere.
“I think it’s a really good game for the club coming off the back of two good performances - so let’s go and have a go.
“I think we’ll be upstairs [for the Sunderland game]. We’ve just been COVID tested this morning, so we have to wait for the results before we can join [up with the squad]. We’ve seen the players very briefly, in line with all of the protocols.
“As soon as we get the results, which will hopefully be negative, then we’ll be able to drive up and watch the game. I think Richard [Cooper] and the team have done so well, so I think it’s a nice reward for them to take the team at the Stadium of Light.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Nigel Clough’s first interview as Mansfield Town boss in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
from interview on iFollow Stags:
Mark Stevenson: "Richard Cooper was your boot boy at Nottingham Forest"
Clough: "Yes, many years ago when I went back on loan, we just crossed over a little bit. It's nice to have that connection."
Mark Stevenson: "Will you have an input into the team tomorrow?"
Clough: "Yes we've had a chat this morning with Richard about it."
New Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough sees no reason why Stags cannot replicate Burton Albion success
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill, Friday 6th November 2020
New Mansfield Town manager sees no reason why Stags cannot climb their way up the football pyramid.
The former Burton Albion boss was confirmed as the new Mansfield manager on Friday afternoon.
And he believes his new club can mirror the Brewers’ success, which saw Burton enjoy two seasons of Championship football.
“There is no reason why Mansfield can't follow a similar path to Burton,” he said. “I don't think it's a short-term job, there will need to be building, time and patience.
“It's a big challenge, but it's a club with an awful lot of potential. That's the main attraction. It's a very good club and there are a lot of good people here.
“I think this is a very good opportunity. We met the players briefly this morning. We'll demand maximum effort, first and foremost - that's non-negotiable. We also like to attack as much as we can.
“You look at the potential for the club to grow and succeed. The only negative is the league position - everything else is ready to go."
Clough is now keen to stamp his mark on the club and to put the building blocks in place for a real promotion push next season
"We want to make some progress and gain some optimism for next season,” he said.
"The potential of the club was the main attraction.
“We can't look too far ahead though, all it's about now is winning some games and getting away from the bottom of the table.
“The players have a responsibility to want to turn it around. We need to be focused and do whatever we can to win a football match.
“We've been talking with David Sharpe for maybe the last week really.
“We're very excited about the prospect of working for Mansfield. David Sharpe has played a big part in it.
“It's been a long six months. It's now time to get back into football and enjoy it.
“We need to get a team on the pitch, playing football and working hard. We're very excited and I think you have to have that excitement."
Clough will sit out tomorrow’s trip to Sunderland with Richard Cooper taking charge of the team.
"We're hoping to be there [tomorrow], but Richard Cooper has done excellently with the lads so he will take the game,” said Clough.
“We'll pop our heads in and wish them good luck. My message to the players is just have a go. Don't sit back - let's go and have a go.
“The opportunity to play at the Stadium of Light - one of the best stadiums in the country - is a wonderful one. So let's go and enjoy it."
David Sharpe says new boss Nigel Clough is the perfect fit for Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill, Friday 6th November 2020
Mansfield Town CEO David Sharpe is confident Nigel Clough is the ‘perfect fit’ for the club.
The former Burton Albion boss was unveiled as the new Mansfield manager on Friday afternoon.
Clough was the top target for Sharpe following the sacking of Graham Coughlan.
And Sharpe believes Clough is the ideal candidate to get Stags where they want to be as part of a long-term project.
“Having the right manager is going to be crucial,” he said. “It is huge having him here and an exciting day for the club.
“He was the man we wanted when we started this process and to land him is a big day.
“If you look at the job he did at Burton with the budget he had, it shows he knows how to get a team together on a tight budget.
“We have to work under a salary cap and he is the perfect fit for where we will be as a club moving forward.
“He's got a proven track record of getting results at a higher level.
“Hopefully he will take to this league like he has done elsewhere. I’m sure he will have the same impact;
“I've only been at the club a few months and today it feels like a totally fresh start. I'm really excited and I do have a good feeling about where this club will go in the future.
“I have always tried to stay positive but it has been hard with the results this season. This is a big day for the club and I'm feeling excited, hopefully we are going uphill now.
“We have got the basis of a good team and I’m sure the future will be bright.”
Sharpe also revealed that both he and Clough were singing from the same hymn sheet rom the off.
“When I heard he might be interested we had a quick chat with him followed by another chat and a longer meeting,” he added.
“We got on very well and we seemed to be aligned. We look forward to what he will bring here and I'm sure it will be special times ahead.
“You just have to look at his CV and career, everyone knows what he's achieved in the game as player and manager.
“He produced a miracle at Burton, they are one of the success stories of the last decade if not 20 years.
“His track record speaks for itself and to attract Nigel is a big day for us”
He wanted to know what our ambitions were and to have a good chat, it wasn't just a 20 minute chat.
“He knows a lot about the club and the squad, he sees it as a long term project.
“We’re not in a good league position but we have potential to grow.
“Our first objective is to get out of the situation we are in and climb up the table and build on it. It is one step at a time.
“When Nigel has been given time he has rewarded the board and owners with success. The aim is for him to be here for the long term
“If he has a few transfer windows we will see a team to be proud of.”
06 Nov 2020
John Radford social media
Carolyn and I are absolutely delighted to welcome Nigel Clough to Mansfield Town.
He has a proven track record of improving the teams he has managed and will provide the leadership and stability we now require.
Show him, Gary and Simon your full support.
Welcome to the #Stags’ family. COYS!!!
Carolyn Radford @CarolynRadford social media
Delighted to announce the appointment of Nigel Clough as our new manager! @mansfieldtownfc
05 Nov 2020
John Percy Daily Telegraph @JPercyTelegraph
Nigel Clough set to be appointed as the new manager of #MansfieldTownFC in the next 24 hours. Clough was their No. 1 target and he will sign a three-year contract. Big coup for Mansfield and great to see Clough back in management
Pete O'Rourke @SportsPeteO
Former Derby and Burton boss Nigel Clough is set to be appointed as the new Mansfield manager in the next 24 hours. #mtfc #Stags
Mansfield are expected to appoint Nigel Clough as their new manager on a three-year deal.
Certainly a coup for the League Two club &, frankly, a brilliant appointment.
Commands respect, has managed big personalities at a much higher level & plays great football
Exclusive: Mansfield Town set to appoint Nigel Clough ahead of Derby County
5th November 2020, By Wayne Veysey
Mansfield Town are set to appoint Nigel Clough as their new manager ahead of Derby County, Football Insider understands.
The 54-year-old has been linked with a return Pride Park amid speculation over Phillip Cocu’s future, with this site revealing that showdown talks between the Dutchman and the Rams took place today (Thursday).
However, a source at Mansfield has told Football Insider that the former Derby County, Burton Albion and Sheffield United boss is set to accept the Stags’ offer and will be appointed their new manager in the next 24 hours.
Clough has been out of work since he left Burton earlier this year after a four-and-a-half spell at the Pirelli Stadium.
He managed to take the club from League One to the Championship in 2016 and kept the Brewers in the second tier for two seasons before they were relegated in 2018.
After two mid-table finishes in recent years, Clough stepped down as manager as club chairman Ben Robinson cited financial difficulties as a reason for his departure.
He is now set to drop into League Two to take on struggling Mansfield, who sacked former boss Graham Coughlan at the end of October.
The Stags are yet to win a single league game this season, with seven draws and four defeats to their name, and currently sit third from bottom in the fourth-tier table.
He had been linked with a return to Derby, where he took charge 233 games as a manager between January 2009 and September 2013.
The Rams, who currently sit 23rd in the Championship, are considering Cocu’s future at Pride Park after a poor start which has seen them win just once in their opening 10 league games.
MANSFIELD TOWN CLOSING IN ON 54-YEAR-OLD ‘AHEAD OF DERBY COUNTY’
05/11/2020, By Sam Rourke
Mansfield Town are close to appointing Nigel Clough as Graham Coughlan’s successor ‘ahead of Derby County’ according to Football Insider.
Coughlan was sacked in October after a poor start to the season which has seen them fail to win a league game thus far, as they languish in the lower echelons of Sky Bet League Two.
The Stags are subsequently looking to the experienced Nigel Clough to steady the ship and rejuvenate the club, and get them battling towards the sharp end of League Two.
It is expected that the 54-year-old will accept the offer of the manager’s job at Mansfield Town within the next 24 hours, subsequently dashing any hopes of Derby County moving for him as has been suggested.
Clough has a wealth of experience of managing in the EFL and has been searching for a new job after his spell with Burton Albion came to an end at the start of this year.
This looks like a fantastic appointment.
Clough has consistently proved he can get the best out of players and has the ability to galvanise a dressing room, something he did so impressively at the Pirelli Stadium with Burton.
He has years of experience at numerous EFL sides and has the nous and pedigree to guide teams to promotion, something that Stags fans would have been aiming for before the season.
The club find themselves in a precarious position at the bottom end of League Two and desperately needed a fresh set of eyes to work with a squad that does have quality, but perhaps just needs some more experienced guidance.
Nottingham Forest legend Nigel Clough lands Mansfield Town job
by Lee Clarke, November 6, 2020
Nottingham Forest legend Nigel Clough has been unveiled as the new manager of League Two outfit Mansfield Town.
The former Reds talisman checks in at One Call Stadium with the Stags one of only two clubs yet to win a fourth tier match this season.
Clough replaced Graham Coughlan who was sacked last month after a desperately disappointing start to the campaign.
The 54-year-old has been out of work since May when he left Burton Albion to help the League One side balance the books.
Clough spent eight years at the City Ground in total, scoring 130 goals and helping the club to four cup finals.
He also spent time at Manchester City and Liverpool and is a respected man when it comes to English football.
The Stags have lost their way in recent years.
Their capitulation at the end of the 2018/19 campaign saw Mansfield throw away automatic promotion and then lose in the semi-final of the play-offs.
Quite simply, they’ve not yet recovered from that escapade.
Last season, Coughlan’s men toiled and finished in a lowly 21st place with the campaign curtailed after 36 matches.
Supporters cited a lack of any real strategy under the ex-Bristol Rovers man and in Clough they have appointed a meticulous manager who will have a clear plan.
Attacking football is typically the order of the day for the son of the legendary Brian Clough and that should delight the Stags faithful.
Clough has opted for a number of styles during his career, with 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 often showcased during his time at Burton Albion.
He remarkably led the Brewers to the Carabao Cup semi-final during the 2018/19 campaign - with his team beating Forest along the way.
Clough might not be the most glamorous appointment to some Mansfield supporters.
A trendy, modern-day manager he is perhaps not but that shouldn’t worry Stags’ supporters.
The man who served Forest with distinction has taken the old-fashioned values from his dad’s style of management and adapted them accordingly to today’s game.
He will command the respect of the dressing room and working hard will become a trait that is non-negotiable in the Mansfield dressing room on his watch.
Too often in recent years the Stags have settled for second best - and that simply won’t do.
For far too long managers have taken liberties with the ambitious John Radford and his backing.
Clough won’t do that. Okay, he might want a couple of his own players in January - name a manager who wouldn’t?
What he won’t do though is expect the financial backing to be a given and he’ll be more than happy to work with what he has at his disposal.
A proud history when it comes to academy players and them graduating to the first-team should also excite the club’s supporters.
The Stags and the people behind the scenes have big plans for their academy. They do some great things at the club’s RH Academy and it would be no surprise to see a few young players graduate during Clough’s tenure.
The ex-talisman looks like being a safe pair of hands for Mansfield Town and he’s arguably the biggest name to have ever worked for the football club.
Watch this space, but the future looks bright for Forest’s local rivals.
MUCH EARLIER STORY:
Nigel Clough: How we recruit players and have to be 'a bit more creative'
Burton Albion boss explains the role of his brother Simon, who heads up recruitment
13 FEB 2020, derbytelegraph.co.uk, By Colston Crawford
Nigel Clough says Burton Albion have to be "a little more creative" in the transfer market than other clubs, given their smaller financial resources.
Clough has been explaining how the Brewers' player recruitment works and the senior role played in it by his brother, Simon.
Simon Clough tends to stay out of the limelight but much of the credit for both the Brewers and Derby County and Sheffield United's successful transfer raids in Scotland, particularly, have stemmed from his recommendations.
Nigel Clough laid out how it works in an in-depth interview recently with the Not The Top 20 podcast.
"My brother is the head of recruitment and that’s purely for practicality, not just because he’s my brother," said the Burton manager.
"He started with us at Derby. In the last 40 years or so we’ve watched so many games together, at all different levels. When you’ve watched games together from European Cup finals to the Dr Martens League reserves, which we have, you get a feeling for all levels of football, so, based on that, we thought he’d be as good a person as any to start identifying the talent. He’s done that for the last sort of 10 years."
Assistant manager Gary Crosby, rarely seen at Burton's matches these days, is also still part of the recruitment process, along with the coaching staff and former Derby County defender Michael Forsyth.
"Gary Crosby has been assistant manager for the last 21 years but he’s out on the road, he doesn’t come to the games," said Clough. "He’s excellent in that. We have a part-time scout, Michael Forsyth, the ex-left-back from Derby, who works with us.
"Apart from that, it’s myself and the coaching staff. We’re all tight-knit, we have conversations daily. And we have a very good analyst (Matt Ash).
"If we’re keen on a player, we’ll all try to go out and see them, at different stages, home and away, and if we all come back with a tick, we know we’re on to a good thing.
"We have to do something different because we can’t sign players purely on attracting them for financial reasons. We can’t pay big fees, or any fees, the majority of the time. We haven’t paid a fee this season. You have to be a little more creative, you have to try to out-think others and you have to find different things in players."
Craig Bryson is widely regarded as Clough's most successful recruit from Scotland, arriving from Kilmarnock at Derby for a reported £350,000 in 2011 and giving the club eight years' service, earning the accolade of the Rams' player of the decade.
Clough well remembers going to watch Bryson before bidding for him.
"I remember when we were trying to sign Craig Bryson. Anybody could have signed him for £450,000," he said. "One of the owners at Derby said ‘why didn’t someone else sign him?’ I said ‘I don’t know, I don’t know what the others are looking for.’
"I’d been up to see him, Gary had been up, Simon had been up. I’d have left after 20 minutes if I’d been nearer to home because it was a yes straightaway, you could just see it. I stayed and watched the whole game because it was a long drive home!"
More recently, Burton have brought Jackson Irvine, Liam Boyce, David Templeton, Scott Fraser and Ryan Edwards down from Scotland, while Jamie Murphy is currently in on loan. Irvine, Boyce and Templeton have all moved on and selling players, says Clough, is a reality for a club of Burton's size.
"If a player gets the chance to go to a higher level, they have always been sold here," he said. "Ultimately, if players are ambitious, they want to move on."
When it comes to bringing players in, Clough has always insisted on being careful with the money of the clubs he has worked for.
"It is hard to be level-headed in football," he said. "There’s pressure from outside, from supporters and everything. You’ve got to sign players. Everyone thinks the answer to your problems on the pitch is just to sign more players.
"If they’re not very good players or they’re not the right players, it’s not the answer and we’ve never done that. We might have missed out on one or two players over the years because of that approach. We’d rather do that than waste money. It’s not our money.
"Supporters are coming in and paying money every week. You have a responsibility to look after their money, the owner’s money or whatever. We’ve always taken that very seriously."
Gary Crosby: ‘Sir Alex Ferguson called and told me what a mistake I’d made’
The Burton Albion assistant manager turned down Manchester United as a player and ended up embarrassing Manchester City, who he faces again in the Carabao Cup semi-finals
Tue 8 Jan 2019, by Stuart James
Gary Crosby looks slightly baffled when asked what he thinks comes up when his name is typed into Google. “I don’t know, I’ve never looked myself up once,” Burton Albion’s assistant manager says. “I’ve never watched any games back that I’ve played in - no point. So I haven’t got a clue. ‘Joiner’, hopefully, because that’s what I am.”
A friendly and refreshingly down-to-earth character, Crosby has been talking candidly at Burton’s Pirelli Stadium for nearly an hour, reminiscing about the days when he was running down the right flank against miners one week and signing for Brian Clough and upsetting Alex Ferguson the next. Plucked from non-league football at 23, the winger racked up more than 150 games for Nottingham Forest between 1988 and 1994, in a period when cup finals were so commonplace for Clough and his players that Crosby has no idea how many times he appeared at Wembley.
The answer takes longer to find on the internet than the footage that has arguably defined Crosby’s career. It features one of the most controversial goals in English football and was scored against Manchester City, who just happen to be Burton’s opponents in Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at the Etihad. “Oh right,” says Crosby, sounding a little surprised after learning “Andy Dibble” is the answer to the Google question. “Of course, that was Man City also, wasn’t it?”
Even now, almost 29 years on, Crosby’s cheeky goal is seared into the minds of a generation of football fans. It was the first thing the commentator mentioned on Match of the Day last month when Alexandre Lacazette sneaked up behind David de Gea, who was weighing up what to do after claiming a cross, and headed the ball out of the Manchester United goalkeeper’s hand before rolling it into the empty net, only for the goal to be disallowed. Dibble, in almost identical circumstances, was not so fortunate when he unwittingly served the ball to Crosby.
It was a league game in March 1990 but Crosby can picture the scene as if it were yesterday. “I can remember it being a deep cross, going around the back, maybe with Andy Hinchcliffe, and I got nowhere near it and went to the [advertisement hoardings],” he says.
“And then all I thought as I got up and started running back on to the pitch was: ‘He’s got to have that ball in two hands.’ So then I just did that [stoops to head the ball]. I don’t think I even touched his hand. Whether the referee actually saw it, or to what degree he knew what had happened, I don’t know.”
City were furious. Their manager, Howard Kendall, remonstrated angrily with Roger Gifford, the referee, who was surrounded by City players. Dibble joined them and looked devastated when it was clear the goal - the only one of the game - would stand. Not surprisingly, it has featured on just about every sporting blooper video and DVD since. “I can never escape it,” Dibble said in an interview 14 years later.
Crosby remembers some City supporters staying behind and giving him “a bit of abuse” when he walked to his car, but says that everything soon died down. As for Dibble, he later gave the glove in question to Steve Sutton, the former Forest keeper, to auction at his testimonial, and there has never been any ill-feeling. “I’ve seen Dibbs about enough over the years that it’s just a laugh,” Crosby adds.
If that goal somewhat unfairly shaped the perception of Dibble’s career, it feels as though the same is probably true for Crosby, albeit without the ridicule. “Maybe. It’s the one thing you get remembered for,” says Crosby, who was a League Cup winner with Forest in 1990. “But I had some fantastic times at Forest. Just to play in Brian Clough’s side for four or five years, that’s my biggest achievement - to be picked by him. I wasn’t always the favourite but I must have been doing something right.”
Crosby had been working as a joiner for six years when Clough signed him from Grantham Town in late 1987, on the back of a recommendation from Martin O’Neill, who was the non-league club’s manager. Nicknamed “Meat Fly” by the Forest fans because of his slight build, Crosby was thrust into a whole new world. “I first played for Forest against Villa reserves at home on a Wednesday night [in a trial match],” he says. “When I walked into the dressing room - because it was the 1980s and I used to have long hair - Brian came in and said to me: ‘You know those places with red and white poles outside?’ I said: ‘Yeah.’ He said: ‘It’s about time you visited one.’
“Then, straight after the game, he said he’d like to sign me. I said: ‘Oh, brilliant. The only thing is I’ve given my word that I’ll play for Man United reserves on Saturday.’ Brian said: ‘If you go anywhere near Manchester United, there’s no contract here.’ So I said: ‘Where do I sign?’ On Friday evening there was a phone call from Sir Alex Ferguson, saying what a mistake I’d made and that I’d given him my word I would go there. But I couldn’t take the chance of not having something. And it was the best thing I ever did, obviously.”
Crosby played with Nigel, Brian’s son, at Forest and they got on well off the field too, so much so that they discussed going into management together long before an opportunity came up in 1998 at Burton, who were in the Dr Martens Premier League, on the sixth tier of the pyramid, at the time. It says much for their friendship that they are still working alongside one another 21 years later, in their second spell at the club, after stints at Derby and Sheffield United. “That’s about trust, I would say, as much as anything,” Crosby adds. “Nigel’s incredibly loyal, just like his dad was. He never thinks about himself. He’s just honest and genuine, and everything that he does has the club’s interests first. There is no thought of personal gain.”
Although Crosby is Clough’s number two, he is often elsewhere on a matchday, looking at potential transfer targets or scouting opponents. Perhaps wisely, Crosby has opted against watching Pep Guardiola’s side and it soon becomes clear the 54-year-old has been in the game far too long to be persuaded that a footballing miracle could happen. “The miracle has already happened,” Crosby says. “I think people are still in a state of shock. I am, personally. You see that draw, you see Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea and Burton - it just looks ridiculous.”
The same could be said for a certain goal. “I bobbled it in as well,” adds Crosby, smiling. “Nigel always laughs at that. The couple of goals I did score were always bobblers. I couldn’t finish like him.”