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Enjoy Damned fiction - but remember facts

Over the coming weeks, much will be made of a movie called The Damned United, which is based on a book by a man named David Peace about Brian Clough's short time at Leeds. People should understand that there is much about the film that is simply not true.

Peace set out to write about Clough's brief tenure at Elland Road from his own angle and with his own motivations.

In both his book and now in the film, it is clear that he uses artistic licence to a level that is simply not acceptable.

When I first read the book, I was drawn to it for obvious reasons. I was mentioned in it and from where I was sitting, not in a very flattering light.

But I wasn't so much concerned about the way I looked as I was by the fact that many of the |portrayals of key events and characters were inaccurate.


Many of the things Peace talks about in the book never happened and for that reason, I felt it necessary to go to the Courts to establish that this was fiction based on fact and nothing more.

I won the case easily and one of the big by-products of that was the fact that the Clough family, who had no voice at all on the subject, had their concerns aired.

Nigel Clough has stated in public that he disputes many of the events portrayed as factual and disagrees fundamentally with the depiction of his father.

Just to give an example of that, it is obvious that Peace believes that alcohol was a huge problem throughout Clough's life.

In his latter years, it became the overriding aspect of his life but at the time when he signed up to manage Leeds, his drinking wasn't an issue.

But Clough and his family are in no position to defend the man they knew as a husband and father and that's why I was happy to contribute to a documentary for ITV which I believe will show people a much more accurate version of reality when it airs over the next week.

Many people will be surprised to see that I am defending Clough's memory, even though it is well known that we didn't get on.

To be honest, we didn't really meet very much outside the 44 days that Clough was at Leeds.

Because he came there with the stated aim of changing everything Revie had built, it was natural that he should put people's noses out of joint and that, in a nutshell, is what happened.

Essentially, what Peace did was to try to make fact out of fiction. The central plank of his yarn is that Clough came to Leeds United and in a fog of drink and eccentricity went head to head with players that had worked for years under Don Revie and would now do it the Clough way.

It is well known that Clough despised Don Revie and his methods and I think it is fair to say that he came to Leeds to prove a point.

The story of his time at Elland Road is undoubtedly a great subject for a book or a film but what we have in The Damned United is one man's |interpretation of facts and not a true telling of events.

I know this because I was there. According to Peace, I worked tooth and nail in the background to undermine Clough because I had wanted Revie's job in the first place.

Peace wrote conversations between myself and Clough into his book that never took place but suited well enough the interpretation he wanted to portray.

There was plenty of material to use without putting words and prejudices into people's mouths.

Clough was an arrogant man and I readily admit that I didn't like him or get on with him.

But that doesn't mean I'm happy to see his memory battered in this way, when he has no defence to offer.

Read the book, go to see the movie but at all times remember that Peace and the filmmakers have created a production that may well be entertaining.

Benitez plays a dangerous game ahead of showdown

IF Liverpool play the way they did against Real Madrid and Manchester United the way they did against Inter Milan, the Premier League title race could take another twist tomorrow.

My gut instinct tells me that the gap between Manchester United and the rest is now too big to overhaul but that doesn’t mean that Rafa Benitez cannot cause Alex Ferguson a few sleepless nights along the way.

For Benitez, this is a massive game. I notice he has once again indicated that he is not certain about signing a new contract. This is a high-risk strategy.

While his team remains in the Champions League and with an outside chance of the Premier League title, it’s easy to see why he would feel strong enough to keep his employers guessing.

But if, for example, United give Liverpool a going over at Old Trafford, Benitez would find himself under huge pressure.

Like Arsene Wenger at the same point last season, everything Benitez desires for his team and himself could go up in smoke over the next few weeks.

He has played a dangerous game with his employers and at times, we have all wondered what it is he is trying to achieve.

If the type of performance Liverpool gave in beating Madrid in midweek is the goal Benitez has been chasing, then he knows that he is very close to achieving his ambitions at Anfield.

However, I think Benitez’s natural caution will not allow him to build on that performance. The more likely scenario is a win for Alex Ferguson and a title run-in that will give Guus Hiddink plenty of air time but the winners’ medals to United.