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Clough, Nigel

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NIGEL CLOUGH 1993-96

 

by Dave Usher

Date of Birth - 19/03/66

Nationality - English

Position - Striker

Games - 34 (10)

Goals - 9

Club Hons (Lpool) - None

Intnl Hons - 14 England Caps

Other Clubs - Nottingham Forest, Man City, Sheffield Wednesday, Burton Albion

 

Of all the disappointing signings that Liverpool made during the nineties, Nigel Clough was perhaps the greatest disappointment of all. He wasn't a complete flop of course, but he was hardly the roaring success he should have been.

 

He does not deserve to be classed in the same category as the Paul Stewart's and Istvan Kozma's of this world, but Clough was a bigger disappointment than those two purely because of the greater expectation level that surrounded his arrival at Anfield.

 

Graeme Souness famously stated that he had signed the 'new Kenny Dalglish' when he spent £2.25m on the England international, who had been an integral part of his father's fine Nottingham Forest side of the mid/late eighties, and to be fair to Souness few Liverpool fans were disagreeing with him. At that time, if you could have picked out any player in the English top division that was well suited to the "Liverpool Way', it would have been Clough. With his clever passing and wonderful vision, he looked every inch a Liverpool player, and it is a complete mystery as to why he never made the grade at Anfield.

 

It started well enough, with two goals on his debut against Sheffield Wednesday at Anfield, one an absolute beauty. The biggest compliment that could be paid to Clough was that he did not look out of place in the famous number 7 shirt, and a bright future appeared to be on the cards for both Clough and Liverpool. The chant of "He's red, he's white, he's fucking dynamite - Nigel Clough, Nigel Clough" rang around Anfield that day, and a new Kop hero was born. At least so it seemed.

 

He netted again with a clever backheel at QPR, but then the goals dried up, the team went on a poor run, and after a miserable defeat at Goodison Park Graeme Souness decided to introduce a teenage Robbie Fowler to the forward line for the away game at Fulham. Clough was forced to drop into midfield to accommodate the precocious Fowler, and never really looked like making a success out of his new position. Classed as being too slow to play up front, he appeared to be too lightweight to play in midfield, and his form dipped alarmingly. Aside from one wonderful performance in the classic 3-3 encounter with the mancs at Anfield, Clough seemed lost in midfield, and he never really recovered from the dip in form he suffered.

 

He was eventually sold to Manchester City for £1m, but he again failed to recapture the form of old, and even a loan spell back at Forest failed to help him re-ignite his career. Clough's time at Anfield wasn't a happy one, but he was always a popular figure amongst the fans, who never turned on him despite his poor form. He wasn't helped by his father's scandalous comments about Hillsborough, which put him in a very awkward position, but Clough junior handled the whole situation with a lot of dignity and his popularity with the fans never suffered despite the resentment Kopites had towards his father.

 

Clough really should have been a star at Anfield, but it just never worked out. He finest hour in a Liverpool shirt was his inspired performance in that United game at Anfield, when almost single-handedly he brought the reds back from 3-0 down to earn a draw. Clough was like a man possessed that night, scoring two fine goals and leading by example. Normally a laid back character, Clough was running around with his fists clenched, encouraging his team-mates and flying into tackles, at one point sending Ryan Giggs six feet into the air and earning a booking for his trouble.

 

Had he been able to sustain that kind of performance, then when Liverpool fans talk about the great number 7's of the past, then the name of Clough would be right up there with the best of them. Unfortunately he couldn't, and he will always be known as one of the great disappointments.

 

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More info on Nigel Clough:

 

++ / LFChistory.net -- Past Present Future

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