Brian Clough is number 15 in 90min's Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next three weeks. You can find Ed Alexander's Brian Clough career overview ​here

​Brian Clough was a masterful man-manager. He just knew how to get the best out of each and every one of his players.

Combine the Yorkshireman's coaching skills with the superb talent at his disposal and you have a magical combination. Yes, Clough was the architect of Nottingham Forest's miraculous rise from Second Division mediocrity to kings of the continent, but he would have been unable to do so without a stellar squad that could turn his dreams into reality.

Harry Bloom,Brian Clough,Mike Bamber,Peter Taylor - Soccer Manager

Likewise, ​Derby County would not have lifted the 1972 top-flight title if they couldn't select men like John McGovern in their lineups, though it was the Rams' new boss who brought the midfielder to the Midlands.

The Scot was one of the finest footballers to play under Clough, which is high praise considering the competition; 'Old Big 'Ead' spent time with some marvellous individuals.

Here's a look at the best XI to work with the maverick manager and his esteemed assistant Peter Taylor.

Goalkeeper & Defenders

Peter Shilton

Peter Shilton (GK) - The most capped player in English footballing history had made a name for himself at Leicester City and Stoke City, but reached new levels following a £250,000 switch to Forest. He was named PFA Player of the Year in his first season, European Player of the Year in his third and was included in the PFA Team of the Year in each of his five campaigns at the City Ground. Not bad for a goalkeeper.

Viv Anderson (RB) - Remarkably and disappointingly, no black footballer had ever represented the Three Lions until Anderson's debut in 1978. He more than deserved the call-up for his diligent performances in one of the nation's most iconic teams, the right-back holding down a starting berth as the Reds lifted an array of European and domestic silverware.

Roy McFarland (CB) - Persuaded to move to the Baseball Ground in 1967, McFarland's transfer from Tranmere Rovers was one of the greatest decisions he could have ever made. He was a giant in Derby's backline, dominating opponents and marshalling teammates as the Rams went from second tier to the First Division summit in the space of five years.

Colin Todd (CB) - Then 23-year-old Todd became the most expensive defender in Britain when he linked up with Clough at Derby. The £175,000 fee was well worth it, the centre-back forging an immense partnership with McFarland. His coach was so impressed, he made sure Todd joined him at Forest, a decade on from their splendid league victory.

Stuart Pearce (LB) - 'Psycho' missed out on the glory days at the City Ground, yet he still collected two League Cup winner's medals during his 12-year stay with the Tricky Trees. He's widely regarded as a club legend for his fearlessness and hammer of a left-boot, whilst his quality is confirmed by a total of 78 appearances for England.


Martin O'Neill

Martin O'Neill (RM) - You'd think 10 seasons of service on the field would have bought O'Neill some more time in the dugout. You'd be wrong. Nevertheless, his regrettable five-month tenure does nothing to damage a well-earned legacy; the Northern Irishman will be always be remembered for his guile on the wing and undying devotion to the team.

Roy Keane (CM) - Here is a man who needs no introduction. Keane is often mentioned in debates over the ​Premier League's GOAT and he is a worthy nominee. He was outstanding in his handful of campaigns for Forest, but the bulldozer was raised to god-like status during Manchester United's era of dominance.

John McGovern (CM) - Another who spent time with Clough in both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, McGovern was handed the captain's armband as the Tricky Trees surged to European supremacy. He was the complete midfielder.

John Robertson (LM) - Like his namesake McGovern, Robertson turned out for the Rams and the Reds during his career. Like his namesake, the Scot was exquisite for either side. Like his namesake, he was arguably the best in the world in his position.


Trevor Francis

John O'Hare (ST) - 14 goals in 101 league outings for Forest is hardly a jaw-dropping return for a striker. The 65 that O'Hare netted in 258 Derby games isn't much better, nor is his sole score for ​Leeds United in six appearances. However, at each of those clubs, the forward was given a particular role by Clough, one which involved plenty of off-the-ball work. Without his energy, supposedly flashier players wouldn't have been able to strut their stuff.

Trevor Francis (ST) - Clough convinced the Reds board to fork out £1m for Francis, making his the biggest ever transfer on these shores. Nodding home the winner in the European Cup final probably single-handedly pays that back, the frontman powering a header past Malmo's Jan Moller as half-time loomed to give his team a lead that they would not let slip.

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