If you were to pick two men from Nottingham Forest’s history that you would not want to cross, then Roy Keane and Brian Clough would probably figure prominently on said list.
Colourful would be one way of describing the pair.
A little eccentric, yes, but heart was forever worn on the sleeve.
Both just wanted to win.
After all, what is the point of playing if you aren’t successful.
Clough and Keane made a habit of winning.
That is because they set the very highest of standards and refused to give an inch.
They expected everyone around them to adopt a similar mindset.
For a brief period in the early 1990s, two larger-than-life characters occupied the same dressing room.
Any flies on the wall around that time must have some tales to tell!
Plenty have been offered up down the years, with Keane bringing another up this week.
And it’s a cracker.
Not an entirely surprising one, and one mentioned previously in his autobiography, but one which encapsulates why both men are held in such high regard at the City Ground.
“People say I was very demanding as if I should almost apologise for it, particularly when I’m in a coaching role,” Keane told Off The Ball.
“Brian Clough – you’re on about motivation – he punched me one time. He was upset. It was heated. He punched me. I remember thinking ‘You’re still a brilliant manager’.
“I came in the next day and trained. I didn’t text somebody in the media. Or go on Ratsapp.”
Standard Keane fodder.
And typical Cloughie!
Can you imagine that going on in the modern era!
If Jose Mourinho were to have struck Paul Pogba during one of their disagreements at Manchester United, you would never have heard the end of it.
Social media would go into meltdown, with a pampered prima donna left crying into his multi-million pound paycheck.
It says everything you need to know about Clough and Keane that there was no such drama on Trentside.
Instead of whinging, there was mutual respect between the two.
Keane could be a handful and Clough would happily admit that he was not everyone’s cup of tea.
They are, however, part of the Forest fabric.
And we are so lucky/delighted to have them.
Neither got the ending to their Reds stories that they deserve – with Clough bowing out with relegation and Keane jumping Martin O’Neill’s coaching ship – but in some ways that is fitting.
They did things their way, in good times and bad.
No apologies were made for their actions at the peak of their powers, and both earned the right to ensure that none need ever be offered.