If you are not a fan of the beautiful game don't be frightened off from this movie. Being a soccer fan is not a prerequisite for liking Tom Hooper's (John Adams) "The Damned United" as it really has very little to do with soccer. It is really a film about the friendship between two men and one man's unflinching desire to make whatever soccer team he coaches the best in England while following his own rules. The film follows legendary English Premier soccer coach Brian Clough (Michael Sheen) through his 44 days as the head coach of Leeds United.
England is a nation of soccer fanatics and to say that they take the sport seriously is an understatement. This fervency goes right through the players to the fans to the coaches. One of the most successful and intense coaches in English Premiere history was Brian Clough. Though he was controversial and spoke his mind – no matter the repercussions, he became one of the most admired coaches in England.
Don Revie (Colm Meaney – Law Abiding Citizen, Layer Cake) was the highly successful coach of the number one team in the Premiere League, Leeds United. He then leaves that post to become the coach of England's national team. Replacing him as coach of Leeds United is former Derby County coach, Brian Clough.
Clough and Revie had become rivals because Clough had coached Derby County to the championship the year before only to have the title wrested from him the next season. Having Clough replace Revie would be the equivalent of having Don Cherry replace Scotty Bowman. Silly! Clough, while coaching Derby County, had been very outspoken in his criticism of Revie's coaching and the style of play he implemented at Leeds.
Once he took over Leeds with his friend Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall – Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) he tried to make the players play his style of soccer which they obviously resist as they had had so much success playing their brand of aggressive football.
Soccer is not a sport that has been well represented on the big screen. Poor quality films with silly stories are the usual fare. But this film goes a long way towards changing that. The soccer scenes in the film are very realistic which helps and the fact that Hooper has interspliced actual real life footage into the film really ups the realism quota.
The character that Michael Sheen (New Moon, Blood Diamond) plays is a man that is in the beginning so loathsome and full of ego that you hate him, but Sheen then transforms him by the end in performance that is part comedic and part poignant. Michael Sheen has made a career out of portraying real life people well. He recreates the mannerisms and speaking voice of Clough so well that you will have to look twice on occasion.
-Deleted Scenes with Optional Director's Commentary
-Cloughisms with Optional Director's Commentary
-Perfect Pitch: The Making Of The Damned United
-Creating Clough: Michael Sheen Takes on 'Old Big 'Ead'
-The Changing Game: Football in the Seventies