Brian Clough and Don Revie are arguably the benchmarks for managers in the modern game. Revie’s Leeds team benefited from his understanding of every element that created a great player and a great team. He was revolutionary in his consideration for diet and off field care for his players. From the late sixties to the early seventies Leeds’ dominance of the English game was testament to Revie. As Leeds’ success faded in the mid ’70s, Nottingham Forest’s began. Clough was an incredible motivator and manager of men; with his assistant Peter Taylor, they put together a team built around experience and up and coming talent which dominated Europe and English football for several seasons. Does the Premier League need teams with this sort of pedigree in it?
Both teams achieved top three finishes in the Premier League over the years but, after a somewhat dramatic fall from grace, found themselves languishing in the third tier of English football. Despite this, as ‘big clubs’ Forest and Leeds always achieved gates that even some Premier League clubs would be delighted with. This owes much to their large fan base and their history, which is still the bedrock of their significant following.
Elland Road and the City Ground find themselves on the verge of welcoming the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal to the away dressing room again. Leeds versus Liverpool, Forest versus Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United versus Nottingham Forest, all fixtures that don’t sound out of place amongst England’s elite.
So if the two sleeping giants were to return to the top flight what would that bring to the beautiful game? The regional passions will be reignited in the ‘Black Country’ and ‘Yorkshire’ prompting even more impressive ‘Super Sunday’s’ on Sky. Leeds United and Nottingham Forest still carry European Pedigree, especially Leeds who within the last decade reached a UEFA Cup and Champions League Semi Final. The lure of the Premier League is huge for players, but saying that, with all due respect to the likes of Hull City, Burnley and Blackpool, they would still not have the allure of Forest and United.
The return of Forest and Leeds would be a PR dream for the men in grey suits at their Wembley headquarters. It would add to the clubs that can dominate the headlines both on the front and back pages; which on the basis that ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ can only add to Premiership’s dominance of the football stage.
Should the two return to the Premier League, it could only be described as a long overdue ‘homecoming’.