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The Damned Utd

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Overachieving and eccentric football manager Brian Clough was on his way to take over at the country's most successful, and most reviled football club: Leeds United, home to a generation of fiercely competitive but ageing players. The battle he'd face there would make or break the club - or him.

David Peace's extraordinarily inventive novel tells the story of a world characterised by fear of failure and hunger for success set in the bleak heart of the 1970s.

346 pages, Paperback

First published August 17, 2006

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About the author

David Peace

53 books448 followers
David Peace was born in 1967 and grew up in Ossett, near Wakefield. He left Manchester Polytechnic in 1991, and went to Istanbul to teach English. In 1994 he took up a teaching post in Tokyo and now lives there with his family.

His formative years were shadowed by the activities of the Yorkshire Ripper, and this had a profound influence on him which led to a strong interest in crime. His quartet of Red Riding books grew from this obsession with the dark side of Yorkshire. These are powerful novels of crime and police corruption, using the Yorkshire Ripper as their basis and inspiration. They are entitled Nineteen Seventy-Four, (1999), Nineteen Seventy-Seven (2000), Nineteen Eighty (2001), and Nineteen Eighty-Three (2002), and have been translated into French, Italian, German and Japanese.

In 2003 David Peace was named by Granta magazine as one of twenty "Best Young British Novelists." His novel GB84, set during the 1984 miners' strike, was published in 2005.

from contemporarywriters.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 430 reviews
Profile Image for Violet wells.
433 reviews3,051 followers
November 22, 2016
During my gap year I worked as a nanny. My ward was a tremendously shy and emotionally inhibited young boy. One of my tasks was to take him to watch Chelsea FC play. The first game we went to together was an evening kick off. What I remember is the otherworldly green of the grass under the floodlights, the almost phosphorescent white glow of the chalk lines. But most of all what I remember is the uninhibited joy of my ward when Chelsea scored. We became the best of friends after that evening.

While I can’t say I’m at all interested in reading about football, I am interested in David Peace because he’s a writer I greatly admire. He’s something of an original, a great stylist who likes making fiction of fact. He’s written about the Miners’ strike, the Yorkshire Ripper and a serial killer in post WW2 Japan. Here he turns his attention to the legendary football manager, people’s champion and outspoken maverick, Brian Clough.

The novel has two timelines: Clough’s phenomenal achievement of winning the championship with a small and ailing club, Derby County and his subsequent job at the tremendously successful but universally hated Leeds Utd. Peace does a fantastic job of ventriloquism in appropriating what feels like an authentic voice for Clough. Peace’s familiar fragmented, hypnotic prose style is present, in which he gives his prosaic cataloguing of detail a dark poetry through his mastery of cadence and rhythm. “Saturday’s come, with Saturday’s stink. The sweat and the mud, the liniment and the grease. The steam and the soap, the sewer and the shampoo.”

The novel is both fabulously humorous and poignantly tragic. It's a brilliant character study of hubris, of a man being his own worst enemy. It’s also clever how emotionally involved Peace gets you in the results of each new football game. But with Clough it wasn’t just about winning, it was winning in style that mattered. He wanted and needed to be loved by the working people. He wanted to be a kind of Robin Hood. At heart it’s a novel about the little man fighting and being defeated by the complacency and corruption of the establishment.
Profile Image for Toby.
832 reviews329 followers
July 5, 2015
A remarkable piece of historical literature that just so happens to be centred in the world of English football.

David Peace is clearly an exceptionally talented writer of semi-noir stories. His Red Riding Quartet being the darkest, bleakest, deepest black that the modern take on the genre gets. And on the face of it a fictional tale of a high profile sports personality from 1970s England doesn't automatically lead you in that direction. His portrait of Brian Clough however ticks the majority of the boxes required of a noir protagonist and it is this portrait that lifts this novel head and shoulders above all other books about football and perhaps even, as The Times said in its review, every novel ever written about sport.

Forty-four days in the life of a disturbed genius. Forty-four chapters of self-loathing and doubt interspersed with examples of his brilliance and an almost biographical look at how it was that Brian Clough came to be in the position he found himself in. It plays out with a sense of inevitability, the kind of relentless and futile struggle that you might find in such classic B-movie noirs as Detour and the kind of psychological study of human nature that wouldn't be out of place next to the great names of 20th century literature, like Graham Greene perhaps.

Peace really finds Clough amongst these words, contrasting his speech patterns with his inner monologue to enhance the troubled genius aspect of him, a constant repetition of words and phrases highlighting the driven nature of the man and again this skill is what marks Peace out as the award winning talent that he is.

Whilst this is a fictional tale, it is based on fact and extensive research, it becomes easy to villify the designated bad guys thanks in no small part to the talent of the author; and it is this that got both him and his publisher in to legal trouble after publication. After losing a libel case certain sections were removed from editions published after 2008. I was very happy to find myself in posession of a 2007 printing and read with great interest, keen to discover what exactly was no longer deemed suitable for publication. I must say I thought it a bit soft, Johnny Giles really doesn't come off too badly, especially not when compared to the conflicted drunken genius of the main character.

The movie adaptation was also very good but to my surprise on reading the novel painted Clough in a much friendlier light. Whilst I enjoyed the movie it didn't really give you an insight in to the inner workings of the man and only really touched on the turmoil of his mind when compared to this book. Both are excellent on their own merits.

This was a very easy read, addictive to the point where I have put off all other activities where possible today to allow myself the pure pleasure of reading this novel, without interruption. Highly recommended for fans of powerful character studies as well as all those football fans impatiently waiting for the new season to start.
Profile Image for George K..
2,369 reviews292 followers
July 10, 2016
Τον Ιανουάριο του 2014 διάβασα το "Χίλια Εννιακόσια Εβδομήντα Τέσσερα" και έμεινα κάγκελο από την δύναμη και την μαυρίλα της ιστορίας. Μιλάμε για ένα αστυνομικό μυθιστόρημα που θα ζήλευε ακόμα και ο Τζέιμς Ελρόι! Τώρα εδώ έχουμε να κάνουμε με κάτι εντελώς διαφορετικό, μιας και το βιβλίο δεν είναι αστυνομικό, ούτε τόσο μαύρο. Όμως είναι και πάλι γαμάτο! Παρακολουθώ και παίζω ποδόσφαιρο, ρίχνω μια ματιά στις μεταγραφές που γίνονται κάθε χρόνο, και ούτω καθεξής. Όμως μέχρι τώρα δεν είχα διαβάσει βιβλίο που να περιστρέφεται αποκλειστικά και μόνο γύρω από τον χώρο του ποδοσφαίρου.

Το βιβλίο έχει ως πρωταγωνιστή τον Μπράιαν Κλαφ, έναν πραγματικά εκκεντρικό, αλαζόνα, εγωιστή και αθυρόστομο άντρα, που υπήρξε ένας από τους καλύτερους επιθετικούς της γενιάς του (μέχρι που τραυματίστηκε σοβαρά και σταμάτησε την μπάλα) και ένας από τους πιο ιδιαίτερους και αρκετά επιτυχημένους μάνατζερς. Η ιστορία του βιβλίου επικεντρώνεται ουσιαστικά σε δυο χρονικές περιόδους, τότε που ανέλαβε την Ντέρμπι Κάουντι (το "πριν" του βιβλίου) και τότε που ήταν προπονητής για 44 μέρες της μισητής γι'αυτόν Λιντς Γιουνάιτεντ (το "τώρα"), μέχρι που αυτές οι δυο περίοδοι συναντιούνται στο τέλος. Η Νότιγχαμ Φόρεστ και τα δυο συνεχόμενα κύπελλα Πρωταθλητριών είναι λίγα χρόνια μετά...

Με το βιβλίο αυτό, εκτός του ότι γνωρίζουμε καλύτερα τον άνθρωπο και προπονητή Μπράιαν Κλαφ, παίρνουμε μια εικόνα και από τον τρόπο λειτουργίας του επαγγελματικού ποδοσφαίρου στην Αγγλία την δεκαετία του '70, με τους μάνατζερς να καθορίζουν την τύχη των ποδοσφαιριστών και όχι το αντίθετο, με τις μεταγραφές να κλείνονται σε σπίτια, παμπ, εστιατόρια και δωμάτια ξενοδοχείων, με τους ποδοσφαιριστές να πίνουν αλκοόλ και να καπνίζουν το ένα τσιγάρο μετά το άλλο, με τον ποδοσφαιριστή την μια μέρα να παίζει μπάλα, την επόμενη να σταματάει και την μεθεπόμενη να αναλαμβάνει προπονητής, με τους προέδρους και τα διοικητικά συμβούλια των ομάδων να προσπαθούν να επηρεάσουν διαιτητές και συνειδήσεις, και πάει λέγοντας. Σίγουρα κάποια πράγματα παραμένουν ίδια, πολλά όμως έχουν αλλάξει ανεπιστρεπτί. Για καλό και για κακό.

Τώρα, όσον αφορά την γραφή, κατά την γνώμη μου είναι εξαιρετική, μην πω γαμάτη. Είναι όμως και αρκετά ιδιαίτερη. Μπορεί να μην αρέσει σε κάποιους ο τρόπος περιγραφής των γεγονότων και των σκέψεων του πρωταγωνιστή. Οι κοφτές προτάσεις, που πολλές φορές είναι ακόμα και μια μόνο λέξη, οι διάφορες επαναλήψεις που σκοπό έχουν να δείξουν την ψυχική κατάσταση του Κλαφ την κάθε στιγμή, ο τρόπος αφήγησης που αλλάζει ανάλογα με την χρονική στιγμή (στο "πριν" είναι σε δεύτερο πρόσωπο και στο "τώρα" είναι σε πρώτο), το λίγο αλλά άκρως απαραίτητο και ωραίο βρισίδι. Προσωπικά όλα τα παραπάνω με ξετρέλαναν. Αυτή ακριβώς η γραφή ταίριαζε με την ιστορία και τον πρωταγωνιστή. Αυτή ακριβώς η γραφή πιστεύω ότι κάνει την διαφορά στο βιβλίο.

Πολλά είπα. Αλλά αυτό συμβαίνει κάθε φορά που διαβάζω ένα πραγματικά καλό βιβλίο. Και αυτό είναι κάτι παραπάνω από καλό. Όμως δεν είναι ένα βιβλίο για όλους. Μπορεί κάποιος μη ποδοσφαιρόφιλος να το γουστάρει -δεν ξέρω. Μπορεί ακόμα και κάποιος τρελαμένος με το ποδόσφαιρο, που ταυτόχρονα διαβάζει βιβλία, να μην του πολυαρέσει. Και πάλι δεν ξέρω. Προσωπικά με ξετρέλανε. Μ'έκανε να το διαβάσω σχεδόν μονοκοπανιά, λες και ήταν κανέναν εθιστικό αστυνομικό θρίλερ. Έφαγα μεγάλο κόλλημα με την γραφή και την ιστορία. Κρίμα που τελείωσε. Αλλά θα υπάρξει και δεύτερη φορά. Μπορεί και τρίτη.

Υ.Γ. Ανυπομονώ να δω και την ταινία!
Profile Image for Richard.
452 reviews104 followers
September 10, 2017

Having read Brian Clough's autobiography a number of years ago I've always been intrigued by the man and his achievements, fair to say he was a quality player and a quality manager. This book focuses on his worst management period where he took over Leeds United, the previous league winners and a team who he had berated in the press for their style of football and lack of discipline. To say this was a poor management choice is quite the understatement!

The narrative weaves between the 44 turbulent days Clough was in charge of Leeds but also his more successful period running up to the job where he gained promotion and won the league with Derby County before alienating himself with the board and forcing himself into retirement. It's literally split every other half page so some could be irritated by this narrative style but I liked it. Especially come the end where it could be seen how he was forcing the playing staff of Derby to give the new manager a hard time due to his circumstances and his time at Leeds where he was facing the hard time from their players.

The book can be a bit over indulgent in the profanities, which doesn't bother me but eventually I noticed it which means it was in there a lot. It's not a totally fair reflection on the Leeds players and Clough as this is a fictionalised account of the events but it's got the general gist right. The parts where the author clearly emphasised the drinking problem for effect is purely that and not what really happened at that time (according to his wife who probably knows more than the author) but it foreshadows what would eventually be his downfall.

This was turned into a film which I've seen and really enjoyed, anyone with a slight interest would do well to watch that. This isn't the whole story of Clough, merely a dark chapter, the man is a legend of English football and his life really was quite extraordinary. I'd be happy to re-read his autobiography after this outing.
Author 28 books6 followers
November 27, 2012
Having once briefly worked with Cloughie in the late 1970s when I was promoting a series of football talk-ins and he guested ('Shave your beard off, young man' were his first words to me) and having enjoyed the uncannily accurate characterisation of this controversial figure on film by Michael Sheen, I was particularly interested to catch up with David Peace's fictional portrayal, the novel that inspired the film.

So glad I did. Peace nails the self-obsession, the paranoia, the manipulative but compelling speech and eccentric behaviour, and above all the sheer neediness of the man who set out deliberately to create his own legend and came close to being destroyed by the ghost of another, Don Revie.

Throughout we live in Cloughie's tortured mind (first person voice for the Leeds episodes, constantly switching to second person for Derby and other scenes of the past). It's an uncomfortable lodging, but the very best place to explore his troubled psyche, and it does not restrict Peace who brilliantly illustrates the seedy, shambling, low-level corrupt and amateurish nature of 'professional' football in the 1970s, and colourfully recounts the tale of Clough's 44-day tenure as Leeds United manager.

This is a fascinating story, seared by truth, and a great character study, more powerful, dramatic and original than any sporting biography or autobiography you are likely to read, 'ghosted' or otherwise. It may not be, as the cover claims, 'the best novel ever written about sport' (Peace's own list of sources and acknowlegements throws up a couple of contenders for that title) but it's certainly in the running.

Profile Image for Ken.
2,164 reviews1,323 followers
October 7, 2018
A biographical account of Brian Coughs tenure at Leeds United, told from he’s point of view it’s an insightful look at that ill fated spell.

Of course there’s some liberties taken with the story, but I felt it helped gives an idea as to why he’s spell at Leeds didn’t work out.

The story includes flash backs from both he’s playing days and previous managerial jobs.
I quite liked that he’s time at Brighton was included.
Profile Image for Eleni.
113 reviews9 followers
July 5, 2014
That the story would read as brilliant as it is to a stubbornly romantic football fan like me, was expected. That Peace's writing would go all the way down a dark, haunting, decadent poetic road with such elegance and soul, such music, was not.

Apparently, Brian Clough was an impossible person. He was arrogant and he was angered. He wouldn't take criticism. He was vengeful and bitter. Perhaps unforgiving. Definitely annoying!

And he was isolated, isolated, isolated. It nevertheless didn't feel like he was alone. The Damned Utd effectively avoids the cliché of yet-one-more-novel-about-withdrawal-and-how-we-fill-our-misery. Brian Clough didn't need to fill his misery, because his faulted heroic nature was shadowed by his ambition. It’s in almost every page of this book that you can feel the demons in his mind being threatened by his obsession to excel. It didn't always work, but when it did, another page of glory was added to the history of the sport.

Engaging Brian Clough with empathy was probably a challenge back in the day.

But this book isn't trying to make you like Clough anyway, because it doesn't need to. Brian Clough’s character is larger than the book itself. Constantly flirting with self-destruction, he is determined to give rise to his own legend. With memories of his more successful years at Derby County, he is set to exorcise the dark legacy of his predecessor at Leeds United football club, Don Revie. Nice and clean. Through work and painful honesty. No blue suits. No dossiers. No bingo and no bowls. No ritual walks around the traffic lights or lucky routes to this bench in the dug-out. No envelopes full of cash. No gamesmanship or cheating – Just football .

Just football. Only this book isn't about just football. Because Brian Clough doesn't believe in God. But he does believes in doubt. He does believe in fear. Because David Peace winked to the 60s and the 70s with style, and made it so.
Profile Image for Eirini Proikaki.
334 reviews108 followers
February 1, 2017
I don't believe in God.I don't believe in luck.I believe in football-
I believe in family and I believe in me,Brian Howard Clough.
Μπράιαν Κλαφ.Μια απο τις σημαντικότερες μορφές του αγγλικού ποδοσφαίρου,εκκεντρικός,αλαζόνας και αποφασισμένος να πετύχει.Στο βιβλίο αυτό ο Πις μας βάζει στο μυαλό του Μπράιαν Κλαφ.Παρακολουθούμε τη ζωή του απο τη στιγμή που τραυματίστηκε άσχημα και τελείωσε η καριέρα του ως ποδοσφαιριστής μέχρι την μέρα που απολύεται απο τη μισητή σε αυτόν(dirty dirty) Leeds United.
H αφήγηση γίνεται απο τον ίδιο τον Κλαφ σε δυο χρόνους ,βλέπουμε μια μια τις 44 μέρες που έμεινε στη Leeds ενώ παράλληλα παρακολουθούμε και την πορεία που τον έφερε εκεί,ο τρόπος γραφής του συγγραφέα με τις κοφτές προτάσεις και τις επαναμβανόμενες φράσεις μας μεταφέρει τα συναισθήματα του,το άγχος του,τους φόβους,τα μίση και το πάθος του.Στην αρχή αυτός ο τρόπος γραφής με δυσκόλεψε αλλά γρήγορα τον συνήθισα.
Είναι πολύ ιδιαίτερο βιβλίο,εκτός απο τη ζωή του Κλαφ μας δίνει και μια γεύση για το πως λειτουργούσε το ποδόσφαιρο εκείνη την εποχή,πολλές διαφορές αλλά και κάποια κοινα απο αυτά που δεν θα αλλάξουν ποτέ δυστυχώς.
Προτείνεται για ποδοσφαιρόφιλους,νομίζω όλοι θα το εκτιμήσουν.
165 reviews184 followers
April 16, 2016
I am writing this two years after I actually read this book. The reason I remembered this book is nothing more than Leicester's glorious rise to the top this season, which has been nothing less than a fairy tale.

Well, Derby's rise was nothing less than a fairy tale either, only made possible by the genius of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor. They took a team hanging by the threads, struggling at the bottom of the second division to the top of the first division. Why? Because of Clough's obsession with Don Revie, of course!

This book explores Clough's inner demons, his rise to glory, his obsession with Revie and Leeds United and his subsequent failure as Revie's successor at Leeds. The plot is nothing short of a top notch drama novel in itself.

Clough did go on later to win double European Cup with Nottingham Forest (now Champions League) but that is another story!

Go take a read to experience of one the greatest sports stories ever told. Or just watch the movie, really. Its great in itself with a spectacular performance by Michael Sheen.
Profile Image for Marc Nash.
Author 19 books342 followers
February 23, 2019
Forget the movie, this came first. It's the best damn book looking inside the mind of a single human being I've ever read. An obsessive man, an anxious man, worrying and fretting about the same things over and over again as Peace writes a human mind as non-linear set of concentric circles closing in on itself. The language and voice drive you through this book and you come out the other end knowing this character better than you know yourself. You don't need to know anything about football either to enjoy it. It is powerful stuff and maybe not for everybody, but I have no problem recommending it. It will forever remain on my all time top ten list.

Having just reread it in 2019 I see nothing to change my mind. I will be talking about this and two other books in detail on the Papertrail podcast which will be broadcast in April.
Profile Image for Alan.
Author 11 books161 followers
July 29, 2008
I'm probably being harsh with my star rating because it is a tremendous feat, writing from inside Brian Clough's head. Unfortunately it is terribly repetitive and - after the first 100 pages which are quite an exhilerating read - becomes boring.
Profile Image for Amir.
200 reviews69 followers
May 12, 2016
کتاب غیرقابل تحمله. تعجبی نداره فارسی‌زبونای گودریدزم نخوندنش انگار. روایتش اینجوری که داره داستان خود نفر اصلی داستان رو برای خودش می‌گه. تو می‌روی آنجا. این کار را می‌کنی. این‌طور خواهد شد. یک بار سر صدر سر اون کتاب مزخرف در قاهره خواهی مرد رکب خورده بودم. حالا فهمیدم صدر این مدل تخمی روایت رو از همین کتاب یونایتد نفرین شده الگو گرفته. جمله‌های بریده و خورده شده. تکرار کلمات. تصویرها ساخته نمی‌شن بی‌صاحاب اصلن.
Profile Image for GloriaGloom.
185 reviews1 follower
November 18, 2010
Premetto che calcio e calciatori mi stan da sempre gagliardamente sulle balle; e lì locati anche gli scritti letterari intorno al calcio, siano essi le logore romanticherie che da Soriano scendono giù giù sino a Darwin Pastorin oppure le scuole moderne di pensiero che vogliono il tifo politicamente corretto alla Hornby e le teste spaccate in allegria di Irvin Welsh. Questo per dire che Il Maledetto United, così a occhio e naso, non avrebbe avuto alcun appeal su di me se non fosse che è farina del sacco del più grande scrittore inglese vivente (e senza alcun contraddittorio, è dato oggettivo, al limite potrebbe giocarsela con l'Amis più scorbutico e cartavetroso, ma quest'ultimo, son sicuro, corromperebbe e ricatterebbe qualunque arbitro del gusto) alle prese col suo libro migliore.</p><p>Qui il Peace, dopo la fedifraga parentesi giapponese (quel Tokio Anno Zero di risibile fattura) ritorna sul luogo del delitto, l'amato/odiato Yorkshire a tessere il mantra interiore della sconfitta di Brian Clough, furastico allenatore socialista, alla guida del Leeds United nell'anno di disgrazia 1974. Nessuno Schiaffino e nessun Maradona allignano in queste pagine, le partite si liquidano in due righe, sputi di cronaca, ma un ambaradan di odio, livore, buste di carta piene di soldi, dossier sugli arbitri, fantasmi lividi che tengon svegli la notte, una cappa appiccicosa dove ogni moto d'umanità resta impigliato. Il Leeds è un laboratorio sociale di feroci trasformazioni di un paese(un mondo) sull'orlo dell'abisso: Margaret Thatcher e le oscure armate del liberismo selvaggio, come ci avverte all'inizio e in coda al testo, son dietro l'angolo...</p><p>A far la differenza, poi, con i tronfi biopic che inzeppano la narrativa fighetta d'oggidì è l'uso sconsiderato di qualunque figura retorica possa balzar fuori dal kit dello scrittore provetto: enumerazioni, accumulazioni, ripetizioni, ogni germe parolaio viene steso sul tappeto per poi essere scarnificato, sacrificato e tornare puro suono. Non ci si affeziona a nessuno dei personaggi qui, si empatizza invece con la vertigine, col vuoto sordo, col suo rumore.</p><p>Il più bel libro di questo mezzo 2009.
Profile Image for Nick.
162 reviews25 followers
January 18, 2009
With a pace as fast as ol big ed's mouth and as much fags and booze as a working man's club, this is the no-holds-barred story of how Brian Clough went to Leeds United. And left in no time flat. On his 1st meeting with the team he told them they had won the previous league through cheating, and they should just throw their medals away because with him they would win it fairly. From there it went rapidly downhill, helped along by a fair amount of boardroom backstabbing and dressing-room betrayal.

So that's the history, and it makes a fairly amusing story, but probably not enough for a book. Unless you are David Peace, and you plant yourself inside ol big ed's big ed. Memories, motivations and ego collide to give an insight into one of football's few true geniuses. As with Peace's other work, this fictionalised account of real events is propelled by dialogue plucked from the air and thrown on the page with no concern for anyone's sensitivities. Close your eyes and you can hear Cloughie return from the grave (but open them again so you can finish the book!). Juxtapose this with the story of Clough's previous meteoric managerial success and you have a great read. What happened after Cloughie left Leeds is, as the cliche goes, history. Hartlepools, Derby County and Nottingham Forest can testify to the wonders that Brian Clough could achieve given the right support. More fool Leeds. Damned Leeds. The Damned United.
Profile Image for Ian  .
189 reviews15 followers
July 27, 2011
David Peace has a very characteristic writing style, favouring first tense, brief sentences, strong structure. This book features in alternate short sections the story of Clough's 44 days at Leeds and his earlier career as background and explanation. Sports fans and football fans with a literary inclination will love this book, but it is not in reality a book about football. It is a book about a man of ruthless ambition destroying what he loves and almost destroying himself in the process. Clough comes across as incredibly selfish, insecure and lacking in self-belief. However, at the same time he can give belief to others and inspire them to perform above themselves - but only on his terms. This story is like a fairy tale and the language is strongly rhythmic - not all of this book is true, but it contains important truths.
Profile Image for Maria Thomarey.
509 reviews53 followers
January 6, 2016
Αυτό ναι . Ηταν ένα εξαιρετικό βιβλίο . Αγαπώ το ποδόσφαιρο και το χάρηκα πραγματικά
Profile Image for Constantine Melios.
118 reviews11 followers
January 24, 2016
The Damned Utd is a fictional depiction of a real story. Or to be more specific two stories!
Brian Clough is the central character in both of them.
The author unveils the stories together from the perspective of the hero consciousness. A self-destructive hero. Alcoholic and arrogant. Trapped between his ambitions and his disgust for the system governing 70’s English Football. That creates a “noir” novel feeling. Although we don’t have a hardboiled detective a Football Manager instead.

The first story, the rise. Starts when Brian’s Clough promising career came to a violent end after an injury. But after that, our hero bounced back. He became Manager of Derby County. Which was an underachieving second division team, and managed to become Premier League Champion. Reach European Championship semi-finals and became the talk of the town in Derbyshire. He became arrogant. That led him to come in opposition to the Derby County’s President and lose his job. Also, break up with his friend and assistant and he created a lot of enemies a lot of them in Leeds United. The first glances of alcoholism and depression also unveiled after his mother death. Together, the character depicted as an ambitious man with two goals. Win the European Championship and become the manager of England’s National Team.

The second story, the fall, narrates the 44 days Brian Clough was Leeds United manager. Our hero under the spell of alcohol and isolated from his family and friends, takes the role of his arch rival Don Revie. Leeds United for Clough is the devil’s lair. A dirty team is bullying the other teams, negotiating with referees and have unambitious players. His ambition is to achieve something Revie never did win European Championship. That led him to take the role. Although he made a self-fulfilling prophecy that Leeds was never gone to be his team. Alcoholism and depression took their toll on him. Fear, doubt, loneliness and his short temper besides his arrogance created a dead end.

Peace depicts the conscious state of a man who creates his destiny. But then he let himself driven by his demons starts to believe in fate and his inability to change it. The football fans will appreciate this novel. The author,with his style, succeeds to make it more friendly to everybody.
It is not a biography, just a narration of a fragment of a man’s life during his darkest days. In real life, Brian Clough bounced back for another time. He led the Nottingham Forest to two consecutive European Championships. And he came to terms with his friend and partner once again.

Maybe Damned Utd taught him something maybe not… and partner with his former assistant.
Maybe Damned Utd taught him something maybe not…
Profile Image for Estibaliz79.
1,773 reviews66 followers
December 7, 2016
Quién iba a decir que una novela sobre fútbol podía ser tan entretenida. Es más: quién iba a decir que una novela sobre el Mourinho o Guardiola de turno podía ser tan entretenida.

Fiel a su estilo narrativo directo y contundente, Peace sabe cómo meternos en la historia (que es Historia) y en la psique del controvertido Brian Clough, al que uno no sabe si odiar o compadecer, porque quererle... no, no es fácil. Y aún así sufrimos con él, viéndole alcanzar la gloria con el Derby County y caer después con el sucio, sucio Leeds al que en su día puso de vuelta y media.

Una novela que pone de manifiesto de manera realista y efectiva la dureza del que vive a merced de los caprichos de una afición, deportiva en este caso, y la volatilidad de los logros del que está siempre bajo la lupa del ojo público.

Después de esto el fútbol no me va a gustar más, y muchas figuritas de las de hoy en día se sientan en el banquillo tampoco, porque ante todo hay que tener una integridad y educación... pero desde luego, se empatiza con ellos un poquito más.

Si duro es el ascenso, más dura será la caída... porque lo que la afición/los directivos/los jugadores te dan, ellos mismos te lo quitan.
Profile Image for Paul.
646 reviews
November 8, 2015
Excellent inside-the-head account of Clough's 44 days at Leeds United. The two timelines dovetail together well, and their is a fine insight into the thinking of one of football's most charismatic characters.
Profile Image for Andrew Graham.
17 reviews1 follower
February 20, 2021
'But Boss he can't continue, he has concussion, he doesn't know who he is!!. (BC) well put him back on that bloody field and tell him he's Pele".
Just one of many quotes from the great Brian Clough. I loved this book. The film was really good too. Highly recommended for any one who remembers the great Cloughie.
Profile Image for Randell Green.
Author 3 books30 followers
January 15, 2020
Liked, didn’t love. Ahead of its time, as it reads like a blogging journal. Clough was a personality, that’s for sure. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 ⚽️ 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿
Profile Image for Danny Mason.
201 reviews6 followers
October 15, 2020
I loved a lot of this and was very close to giving it four stars, the way the stories of Clough's time at Derby and Leeds are told in parallel is really well done and the writing's full of unique, interesting flourishes of style that help bring the events to life. What I wasn't keen on is how repetitive things got, which while clearly intentional and to an extent fitting for the story being told still didn't fully work for me.
Profile Image for Alfonso D'agostino.
698 reviews51 followers
August 27, 2017
Storia di una vita e di 44 giorni. La vita di Brian Clough: un passato da attaccante prolifico ma poco considerato (per una punta da 251 gol in 274 partite la miseria di due gettoni in nazionale sono una sorta di bestemmia), un infortunio grave al ginocchio, una carriera calcistica recuperata sedendo sulla panchina e disegnando schemi nell'animo dei suoi giocatori prima ancora che sulla più classica delle lavagnette.

La storia di questa vita è inserita con dei preziosissimi flashback all'interno dell'altra Storia (maiuscola e ripetizione sono volute): la romanzesca trama dei 44 giorni passati da Clough come allenato del Leeds United, il "Damned United" che dominava in quegli anni le competizioni inglesi, con un intero campionario di sottili furbizie, piccole scorrettezze, scorrettezze, altezzosità. Vuole trasformare il club in una società modello, che vinca con un gioco affascinante e faccia innamorare tifosi ed avversari con onestà e pulizia morale; un tentativo evidentemente destinato a fallire in poco più di un mese.

David Peace, autore di spicco assoluto nel panorama noir hard-boiled anglosassone, accompagna in questi pagine con l'odore del cuoio, rumori di spogliatoio, sciarpe, birre, giornali, e traccia ritratti veri ed affascinanti con l'inconfondibile ritmo sincopato e coinvolgente. Consigliatissimo.
Profile Image for Emily.
281 reviews12 followers
August 6, 2013
So I started reading this book on the basis that my boyfriend lent it to me and it's his favourite book. I wasn't too sure what to expect, not because his taste in books is questionable (even if he doesn't like shadows of the wind...) but because it was a book about a manager of a football team and although I don't hate football I'm also not the biggest fan. However, the book was an enjoyable surprise. I loved Peace's writing style, it felt like poetry with the repetitions of phrases and the way certain passages were laid out. I found myself gripped by it and wanting to read more (I finished the last few chapters while walking home!) So if it can engage a non-fan, I can imagine it's incredible to a fan. Despite the fact some of his behaviour and language was questionable I felt attached to Clough and very emotional at the things that happened to him (which also led to me googling & educating myself further once I'd finished!)

Would definitely recommend it :)
Profile Image for David.
67 reviews4 followers
October 3, 2012
I enjoyed it - especially for Peace's rhythmically repetitive prose style, which gives the narrative drive and intensity, quite appropriate for the story of a man who was both driven and intense - but felt that it was dragging on a bit by the end. I can also understand why the family felt aggrieved with the fictionalised portrayal of Brian Clough - there's too much focus on his character flaws (he comes across as extremely arrogant) and his heavy drinking, and although the bare facts of his achievements as manager of Derby are reported in detail, you don't really come away from the book with much of an understanding of why he was so successful.
Profile Image for Angus McKeogh.
1,076 reviews52 followers
October 7, 2015
Seriously one of the best books I've read in a decade. I didn't think I wanted to read a book about soccer. Or a soccer coach. Especially a novel. Seems like a terrible premise. I found that not only was Peace awarded a Granta Best Young Writers Award, but this book was also listed for the Booker. So I gave it a chance. Initially I found the style annoying. But the story grabbed me. Then I realized the style was just unique and actually quite brilliant. Upon finishing I came to see that the story was great. The writing was better. And I'd found a brilliant novelist with loads more to read.
Profile Image for Sajjad Jokar.
42 reviews3 followers
July 27, 2019
یونایتد نفرین شده...
یونایتد نفرین شده...
یونایتد نفرین شده...
بدون شک یکی از لذت‌بخش‌ترین و جالب ترین کتاب‌هایی که تابحال خوندم...
با ترجمه‌ی دکتر حمیدرضا صدر دوست داشتنی...
داستان چهل و چهار روز سرمربی‌گری برایان کلاف افسانه‌ای بر روی نیمکت لیدزیونایتد و سرانجام، اخراج شدنش...
خب داستان از این قراره که برای ما عشاق فوتبال، دکتر صدر یک نعمت الهی محسوب میشه...
برایان کلاف افسانه‌ای، زمانی که بازیکن بود، مهاجم زهرداری در دسته‌ دو ی انگلیس محسوب میشد و رکورد گل‌های زدش همچنان حیرت آوره اما مصدومیت وحشتناکش تو سن پایین باعث میشه که فوتبال رو ول کنه و بره بچسبه به مربی‌گری...
در کنار پیتر تیلور دوست داشتنی این دو نفر هدایت دربی کانتی رو که اون زمان وضع فلاکت باری داشت به عهده میگیرن و در عرض چندسال به سطح اول لیگ انگلیس برمیگردونن و قهرمانش میکنن... در کنار دربی و بریان کلاف، لیدز هم با "دُن روی" قهرمان بلامنازع لیگ انگلیسه... برایان از تیم "دن روی" دل خوشی نداره چون معتقده که اونا جوانمردانه بازی نمیکنن ...
داستان چگونگی تکامل و به موفقیت رسیدت برایان کلاف و بلند شدن بعد از هر شکست و دوباره تلاش کردن و در آخر رسیدن به قله‌ی اروپا با ناتینگهام، یکی از الهام بخش ترین کتاب‌هایی بود که خونده بودم که دیوید پیس اون رو نوشت و دکتر صدر با فکر و قلم و روش خودش اینطور دوست داشتنی ترجمه کرد...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Rishi Prakash.
349 reviews25 followers
July 12, 2019
My knowledge of Brian Clough or English football during the 70's was limited to say the least so this book came as an eye opener! Brilliant novel about the ups and downs of a football manager who is one of the greatest ever in the English football history. It conveys the constant pressures on and off the pitch faced by a manager who is the most important person for a football team.

The Damned Utd is a fascinating journey into the mind and career of a flawed sports genius- One and only Brian Clough: a man who appears to have a large ego and a great sense of humor to the world but is internally a man racked with doubts. It is the story of a man whose demons take him to the pinnacle of professional success yet lead him to throw away his friends and threaten to destroy his life. It is based on his catastrophic 44-day reign at Leeds United as the Manager before he was sacked...an eccentric genius to say the least!
Profile Image for William.
Author 20 books13 followers
February 1, 2014
Occasionally, it's a good idea to pick up a book for which you have no frame of reference. It can serve as an education, a corrective to bad assumptions, or just a nice diversion from your usual reading. I know very little about European football (soccer) and have virtually no knowledge of the English leagues, which was why David Peace's novel was not only an introduction but also as something much deeper. It also serves as the basis for a movie starring Michael Sheen.
Peace, more well known perhaps for his crime noir Red Riding quartet and his reputation as a British James Ellroy, takes as the novel's subject the short, turbulent career of football manager Brian Clough heading his long-time nemesis, Leeds United. The story is told from Clough's point of view, in short, clipped, often vulgar stretches of self-flaggelation and rage. It isn't necessary to know the backstory to appreciate very early on the stakes.
Clough, a footballer whose career ended prematurely due to injury, becomes the manager of Derby County and quickly gains a reputation as a brilliant manager. His nemesis, though, is Don Revie's Leeds United, a championship club he holds in the utmost scorn for what he perceives as their dirty play. He is publicly critical of them and their manager while at the same time building his own legend in Derby. When he is forced out in Derby, he becomes Leeds' unlikely hire after Revie takes the England manager's job.
From there, Clough embarks on a whirlwind 44 days as manager, trying to change the character of the team while at the same time hating what he has inherited. It is Peace's achievement in this novel to tell both stories of Clough's rise and fall simultaneously, showing the seeds of his downfall in his rise. Constantly, Peace's Clough understands it's not his team, but Revie's. There is no changing them, and even as he tries to lead them, he still hates them. Even a reader with no interest in soccer can appreciate the humanity in the observation, "They love me for what I'm not. They hate me for what I am."
Clough does not believe in God, but he does believe in sport, which makes him believe in himself. It's easy to recognize the familiar egotism that runs through virtually every athlete. The idea that particular teams can be cursed, that the game can help one overcome life, that to beat an opponent is in some ways a moral exercise. "You believe in football; in the repetition of football; the repetition within each game, within each season, within the history of each club, the history of the game - "
But again and again, life intrudes to recalibrate what Clough feels about himself and the game, and the games outside the game. The turning point comes when Clough's mother dies. She isn't really a character in the novel (indeed, characters in the novel mostly serve as foils for the portrait of Clough that emerges) but it is her death which begins the descent that eventually carries him to Leeds, "The end of anything good. The beginning of everything bad..." Clough doesn't believe in an afterlife, no heaven, no hell, no God, nothing, but after her death, "for once in your life, just this once, you wish you were wrong."
Clough, in real life, went on to once again achieve success with Nottingham Forest, becoming the sort of sports figure for whom statues are erected. Peace's novel though reminds us that even the worlds we create within our world -entertainment, sports, business - all seek to operate outside life according to rules of effort, and fairplay. Rules we devise. And yet, even there, the ball seems to bounce against us, no matter what strategies we devise, what defenses we deploy, whatever trophies we think we may capture.
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