Nigel Clough’s approach to accountability would have gone down well with the late World Cup hero Alan Ball.
What brings this to mind is the Sheffield United manager pointing the finger at under-performing individuals if he feels they deserve it, as after the derby defeat to Barnsley. Some years ago, when in charge of Portsmouth, Ball extended a post match press conference at Hillsborough to round on football writers and ask why, in his opinion, they no longer put individual players under the cosh. England’s 1966 firebrand reckoned that, compared with his day, players were treated with kid gloves and that, unfairly, all the emphasis was on managers.
Perhaps it’s hardly surprising in view of his upbringing that Clough has similar old-fashioned traits. Take this comment last weekend: “I thought we got enough of the ball to Jamie Murphy and Jamal Campbell-Ryce. I don’t think they produced.” Both have produced on other occasions, of course, Murphy especially. It just underlines the importance of what should be a strength of a side lacking traditional strike potency. United have a flank flair that, with Ryan Flynn competing, is needed to unlock tight games. The onus will be back on them at Crewe in the FA Cup first round this weekend - and there will be no sparing of the horses from
the manager of the League Cup quarter finalists.