When was the last time, anyone saw a football film made on a football manager who was one of the greatest football personalities of all time. Brian Howard Clough was the best manager in the world England never had. His name itself had controversies written all over it. But what he loved about the beautiful game, changed the face of English Football.
Michael Sheen is Brian Clough, a young successful manager who just takes charge of the best English team of his time Leeds United but his tenure lasted just 44 days. The movie has a parallel narrative with his high and lows as manager of two different clubs. Most part of the movie, Brian Clough is disgraced and humiliated but the film gains whatever it can from a person’s fall.
The film shows Clough as a flawed coach with all his ego,ambitions,abrasive and rash approach to dealing with people not to mention how a genius he was at football. Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall) as his assistant, is a man gifted with insight about players strengths and a perfect complement to the ambitious Clough. If Clough had half of the humility and humanity that Pete had, he would have become a greater manager much sooner.
Football fanatics whose love of the game attracts them to the cinema to see films about their beautiful game may feel let down by The Damned United. It is more of a thorough character analysis of a complex individual, which means fans of the sport wanting to see players in action may be somewhat disappointed. What The Damned United does provide, is a thought-provoking retrospective of the football industry in earlier years. Everyone is in character, so when the real people show up in the usual credit roll at the end, you could easily pick out the actor to match, so close even in appearance.
Michael Sheen, who has by now more than established himself as one of Britain’s finest actors of recent times. There are some moments in the film where you feel that he deserved some of it, but other moments you do feel sympathetic to his attitude of football which was the right way to go. For such a dynamic and potent character, Sheen had a shot on target and it was spot on.