The Damned United (2009) Review

Brian Clough was one of the best English managers on record, the best manager England never had. This film is based on a book which tracked his turbulent 44 days when he was Leeds United manager after joining from bitter rivals Derby County.


The film focuses on his Leeds days but flashes back to Derby in order to show and explain why it was such a strange thing when he joined Leeds as manager. Brian Clough hated Leeds and everyone knew it, he used to call them cheats and dirty. He hated Don Revie the man who got the England job and who he took over for a Leeds. The film helps to show the determination Brian Clough had to be the best, but also the greed in which to suceed Don Revie and win the personal battle that they had, despite his loyal assistant Peter Taylor warning him against getting too sucked into it all. Instead of just staying with Derby and doing more for them in Europe and being the best.

I read the book for this a few years ago, so had been looking forward to this film since I first saw that it was being made. So eventually watching it after a long wait, I was not let down at all. I really enjoyed it and thought it was fantastic. Michael Sheen who appears to now be the number one choice to portray real life people (Tony Blair and David Frost), but those performances were both out shadowed but not this time, not when Sheen took on the task of becoming Brian Clough. No one was going to out shadow him in this film. No one ever out shadowedClough and therefore Michael Sheen was always going to be just fantastic.

Brian Clough spoke his mind and made many enemies along the way but he also became on the most successful English managers of all time. Being a massive football fan a film like this is right down my street as its just fantastic to see football on the big screen. Not only was Michael Sheen’s performance fantastic so were the other three more lead/supporting roles. Timothy Spall as Peter Taylor, Clough’s right hand man was just spot on and fantastic and totally believable. Jim Broadbent as Sam (Derby’s chairman) was his usual brilliant self, so eccentric as usual. But saving the best for last one of my favorite underrated actors in my opinion Colm Meany as Don Revie, it really was just scary how much they got him to look like the real man himself and his accent sounded so spot on he really was fantastic.

I would love to see more films based on the real lifes of footballer’s or managers as I just think it would be a fantastic genre to start up. As so many football fans are in the UK and would love this films. Off the top of my head I would love to see something on George Best, Sir Bobby Robson, Paul Gascoigne and possibly England winning the World Cup in 1966. I just think it could show an insight or an opinion on what happened at different events for those player’s etc.

Overall I think this film should be seen by all fans of football of all ages and even those who cannot remember Brian Clough. I can just about remember him from when I was younger. But I think its important that fans of football know about events which occured in the past. I am curious of how Clough’s family saw the film as I heard they were not happy with the book when it came out. Also wondering how Leeds and Derby fans found it, so might just have to have a look around for some reviews by them.

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