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Anderson Exclusive: Karanka can lead Nottingham Forest beyond Clough shadow

Cross-generational comparisons of sporting greats are fervently argued across social media every day.

In basketball, it's Lebron James vs. Michael Jordan. In tennis, it's Roger Federer vs. Pete Sampras. Amongst football players, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's abilities are constantly equated to those of Diego Maradona and Pele.

But what about football managers? How do the current crop rank with the greatly revered, often mythologised, coaches of yesteryear?

According to Viv Anderson, former Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough was implementing 'tiki-taka' some 30 years before Pep Guardiola's Barcelona revolution and would have no problem managing in today's continental game.

Charismatic, intelligent, and at times controversial, Clough revolutionised Forest during his 18-year tenure at the club. It might seem hard to fathom for fans relatively new to the Premier League, but in the late 1970's, Forest were the kings of England and Europe - twice.

Given English football's reputation as physical and direct, it would be easy to assume Forest scrapped their way to glory. But that wasn't Cloughie's style. He despised the long-ball tactics of his contemporaries, having once famously said: "if God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there."

Anderson started both European Cup finals against Malmo in 1979 and Hamburg in 1980 and said it was Clough's unorthodox tactics in the latter that helped steer Forest to victory.

When asked if Clough could excel in today's game, Anderson told Tribalfootball:"Absolutely 100 per cent. Because he believed in playing football in the right way, the pass and move. They were always entertaining. Although I think he would have to adapt because you have to do a lot more media than back in his day.

"You have to remember he played one up front in a European Cup final 30 odd years ago, so he was forward thinking more than any other manager than I can think in those times. I can remember playing in that final with five midfielders and one up front and we went 'what is this?', but we got on and managed to win. Would he able to manage now? Yes in a heartbeat.

"I think Forest had a team of people who were comfortable on the ball, play it through and it wasn't kick long or long balls, it was always to feet and I think it's very, very similar to how Pep Guardiola plays his football. So I think there are a lot of similarities to how he [Clough] played and how Pep Guardiola plays."

Clough remonstrating in the City Ground dugout still burns strong in the memory of older Forest fans. To them, the Middlesbrough native, who passed away in 2004, represents the ever-passing golden years, a time when the club were feared and respected, a stark contrast to the last two decades spent outside of the English top-flight.

In Anderson's opinion, Forest's struggles derive from their failure to recover from Clough's departure in 1993, comparing their plight to the current situation at Manchester United, who in December sacked their third manager since the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

Forest have made the play-offs only twice since their return to the Championship in 2009/10, but supporters remain hopeful that this could be their season.

Under the leadership of former Real Madrid defender Aitor Karanka, who lead Middlesbrough to promotion in 2015/16, Forest are four points off the play-off spots in seventh. And with further investment from Greek owner Evangelos Marinakis this month, Anderson believes the club can return to where he believes they belong.

"Its like Manchester United. The Cloughie shoes and the Alex Ferguson shoes are big shoes to fill," added Anderson, who played over 300 times for Forest.

"And they've had several managers, both clubs, trying to get the right balance. Hopefully Karanka is the right man to take Forest forward.

"I think it helps that they've got some money with this Greek owner. So hopefully he can put a little bit more money in to get them where they want to be because a side like Nottingham Forest should be in the Premier League and they've been out of their far too long. So hopefully he's the one to guide them forward."

Forest will face Premier League giants Chelsea in the third round of the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Viv Anderson MBE was speaking to Tribalfootball to promote the partnership between 'Playonpro' and 'REDSTRIKE'.

Click here to find out more information on Playonpro.

Andrew Maclean
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Andrew Maclean

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