Starring Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, and Colm Meaney.
The Real Football
For this reason, The Damned United interests me. It depicts the tumultuous and short-lived era of Brian Clough (Michael Sheen) as the manager of British heavyweight, Leeds United, in 1974 after the storied manager, Don Revie (Colm Meaney), takes the English national team job.
When It Gets Personal
Upon drawing Leeds United in the FA Cup in 1968, Clough readies the Derby pitch in expectation of hosting this First Division leaders and Revie, a fellow former Sunderland player. When Revie ignores Clough and uses dirty tactics to win the cup tie, a rivalry is born.
Clough uses this snub to fuel his ambition and inspire his team (coupled with some shrewd signings) to promotion into the first division.
Now battling Leeds in league play, Clough and Taylor experience first-hand the poor play and win-at-every-cost attitude of Leeds United. In every way, Clough molds Derby County to represent the antithesis of Leeds United—sort of like the Red Sox free flowing attitude in comparison to the stuffy feel of the Yankees.
In Over Your Head
Ever the pugnacious personality, Clough welcomes the Leeds faithful by calling his players cheaters for their style of play and disregards the Leeds championships because they weren’t won with beauty. In short, Leeds aren’t champions because they don’t play like champions.
Of course, such statements do not win over his players. Still devoted to the managerial and personal style of Don Revie, the Leeds players rebel against Clough leading to the worst start in 20 years.
What follows leads the viewer to ask questions about the value of teamwork and the importance of communication. Clough is a brilliant manager but without the help of Taylor, he feels unmoored. When the Leeds players refuse to respond to his managerial style, Clough loses the locker room. In a personal vendetta against Revie, Clough finds himself over his head.
Filling in Some History
I enjoyed learning more about Brian Clough and Peter Taylor. If you call yourself a soccer fan, you need to watch The Damned United. It’s not the greatest film in the world, but it tells a fascinating story.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5
Posted by: Donovan Richards