Dubai: Pat Wright wants to bring Brian Clough’s discipline and Don Revie’s organisational skills to UAE football.
The 76-year-old English former defender-turned-coach worked under both legends as Clough’s first signing at Derby County in 1967 and Revie’s UAE assistant in 1977.
Clough went on to win back-to-back European Cups with Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980, while Revie had been in charge of Leeds United during their most successful spell during the 1960s and 1970s.
Wright now wants to instill the values of both managers here in a consultancy role coaching coaches, and says his age is no barrier.
“Winston Churchill wasn’t too old,” he said of the former UK prime minister who held office until the age of 80.
“When people get to a certain age they have vast experiences and some might say I’m in the past, but I’m not, I’m always learning.
“I’m reading Pep Guardiola’s book but the majority we were doing 40 years ago and they act as if it’s something new.
“I worked under two geniuses and would go anywhere to get information, but now I’ve got all the knowledge nobody wants to listen,” added UK-based Wright, who was also part of Jimmy Hill’s team sent to develop Saudi Arabian football in the 1970s.
One of his greatest claims is that from putting the foundations in place with Hill, Saudi went on to qualify for four World Cups and even after his spell here under Revie, the UAE went onto qualify for the 1990 World Cup, which to date is their one and only appearance.
The trick, he said, was good coaching and youth development, with diet, education and apprenticeships thrown into programmes supported by harmonious boards. Something Wright now feels UAE football lacks.
“It’s no good having top class facilities if you don’t have good coaches. First we have to educate the board of directors, the budget of your youth teams should be double that of your first team, and we have to focus on that golden age from 7-11 years-old. Boards need to know that in 10 years they’ll have 10-15 players coming into their first team.”
To do this, Wright would evoke the spirit of Clough and Revie. “Clough was a strong disciplinarian and Revie was a brilliant organiser,” said Wright, citing Clough’s penchant for shaves and blazers, and Revie’s foresight to set up pension schemes for his players.
But Revie and Clough famously didn’t like each other. Clough lasted just 44 days at Leeds after taking over from Revie in 1974, and they both appeared on TV together after Clough’s sacking to attack one another’s managerial styles.
“You could see Don getting red in the face because Cloughie was telling the truth,” Wright recalls of that interview, which is still available on youtube.com and features in the book-turned-film ‘The Damned United’.
“I didn’t know the background until I got the job in the UAE, but when I came here I realised that they absolutely hated each other. Clough came to Abu Dhabi for a training camp with Forest, and Revie wouldn’t let me go and see him. I snuck out anyway to meet Brian for dinner.
“The modern day equivalent would be Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, the only thing they wouldn’t do is spit at each other.
“Both wanted to win, but Clough wanted to win in fair way while Revie wanted to win in a not so fair way,” Wright said in reference to Revie’s intimidation of referees and opposition players, fouling, watering pitches, changing pitch dimensions and wearing nails in the bottom of boots instead of studs — all characteristics that would earn Revie’s side the nickname ‘Dirty Leeds’.
“Clough would have never of done that, he was the exact opposite. But both were similar, twisted geniuses, and I was able to ignore their faults and take the best out of both.”