I noticed an interesting comparison online recently and it set me casting my mind back some years. In the light of some superb results of late and in particular yesterday’s vanquishing of the hun, a Hibby was prompted to relate the present-day abilities of the Hibs team and management in comparison to the Nottingham Forest side that conquered Europe with two European Cup wins and several domestic trophies. Some of the similarities drawn were of smallish squads, tight discipline in the players and similar budgets. Having had the pleasure of watching that great Forest team week in, week out, I’d like to offer the following comparison.
Indeed Forest’s was a smallish squad but some of the players who came in to fill the breach were tremendously effective. I’m referring to players like John O’Hare, Ian Bowyer and an extremely young Chris Woods and Gary Mills (16 years old in the latter case).
Collins: a potential Clough?
A good comparison about the discipline I believe. Clough simply would not allow his players to cheat or berate officials. If they did they would not get any backing from him but rather one of his infamous verbal blasts! It seems John Collins shares this attitude.
The passing is an interesting one. One of my abiding memories of that great team was their method of trying to walk the ball into the net at times. I hear similar complaints from the odd Hibby about this as I did then about Forest Although Forest have always been very much a ‘football’ side like Hibs purport to be some of the fans still didn’t get it – until that run of 42 games unbeaten and various silverware started assembling! Forest would literally pass, pass, pass the ball around the edge of the box practically forever until a good shooting opportunity arose. They were extremely patient in that way as Clough ruled that it was an extremely bad habit to shoot when someone else was in a superior position.
One way in which I’d suggest this Hibs team is actually superior is in physical fitness. Forest were fortunate enough to have a player or two like Archie Gemmill and Martin O’Neill with great engines. The training however was laughable by todays standards. Any morning one could walk down to the Trent enbankment by the river and watch those great stars just fiddling around playing fives amongst the dog walkers! Clough would stand there with his own dog, flat cap on, bawling the odd comment.
John Robertson flattered to deceive -until Cloughie came along to rescue him from the chip pan!
As regards the spending of money, yes most definitely Forest did and it did get them into financial problems for several years afterwards. Of course Trevor Francis was the first £1m player. What Clough did was buy a spine for his team in Shilton, Burns and Gemmill. The majority of the rest were young guys like O’Neill and John Robertson who had done little before Clough came along. Just as important were some of the bargain buys like Peter Withe (£40,000) and the misfits and ‘has been’s like John O’Hare and Frank Clarke (free transfer).
I do see some similarities between Hibs and Forest, and not for the first time. Certainly I think we have a manager with equal self-belief I’m happy to say. Look out Europe!