Nigel Clough

O'Neill's praise for Clough

by Stuart Vose

O'Neill looking forward to facing former mentor's son.

Martin O’Neill says Nigel Clough is making a success of things at Derby as he follows in the footsteps of his famous father.

O’Neill played under Clough Snr – Brian – at Nottingham Forest and faces the legendary manager’s son tonight when Sunderland visit Derby County.

Nigel has been in charge of the Rams since 2009 having previously spent a long apprenticeship with Burton Albion.

“His father was incredibly successful, both at Derby and Nottingham Forest, while Nigel chose to stay in non-league for a long time before he was coerced,” O’Neill said ahead of tonight’s friendly match.

Nigel has done an exceptional job

- O'Neill on Clough

“He has done an exceptional job given the circumstances. Derby have been out of the big league for some time – the payments for being in the Premier League have gone and they are cutting their cloth accordingly.”

Like O’Neill, Clough began in the lower leagues, learning his trade with Burton just as O’Neill did at Grantham, Shepshed Charterhouse and Wycombe.

Clough spent just over 10 years at Burton before finally making the short trip to take charge of Derby.

 “Let’s say some doors don’t open early in your managerial career; there’s nothing wrong with going into the lower leagues,” he said.

“Personally I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“At the time you think that having stepped out of playing football at a good level, people would be falling over themselves to give you good jobs.

“It doesn’t work out that way – you have to work your way up.

“From my own viewpoint, I never regretted it. My days at Wycombe were fantastic, and – I’d be interested to see if Nigel agrees with this – having worked for some time in the lower leagues gives you a greater sense of perspective on some things.”

Tonight’s friendly is Sunderland’s penultimate pre-season outing and O’Neill is expecting another good work-out.

“Playing Championship sides at this particular time, and good ones at that, will test us,” he said.

“We’ve got a couple of injuries to content with, but overall again – as I keep saying ad nauseum – it’s about building up and preparing as well as we possibly can for the Arsenal game.

“We want to do well in the matches to get confidence up and try and win the games if we can.”

-       Watch the full interview with Martin O’Neill on SAFC TV now.