Leadership can be a funny old game, Liz

Forty-four days of chaos, turmoil and back-stabbing. A term characterised by open revolt, disloyalty, and petty score-settling. A collision of egos, with senior members of the team still smarting at the departure of a popular but controversial leader. Key players refusing to recognise the new figure at the helm.

Brian Clough leads Leeds United out for the first time in 1974
Brian Clough leads Leeds United out for the first time in 1974

But enough of the shenanigans in Downing Street, what about Brian Clough's time at Leeds United?

Liz Truss had been in office for 44 days when she announced her resignation yesterday, exactly the same period of time that Clough was at the Whites in 1974.

His tenure at Leeds, depicted in the 2009 film The Damned United, was a rare blip in an otherwise illustrious career. But like the soon-to-depart Prime Minister, he immediately found himself being undermined by those loyal to his larger-than-life predecessor Don Revie.

Like Boris Johnson, Revie had no shortage of critics. Opponents accused him of being a cheat, they said his 'take-no-prisoners' tactics were dirty and unethical. But Revie had inherited a team in the doldrums, shaken it from top to bottom, and delivered successes unseen for a generation. Who cared about the niceties of Queensberry Rules, when the man in charge had a winning formula?

Clough was something of a surprise choice at Elland Road, having previously been a vocal critic of Revie's tough-tackling style. His appointment as a Revie's successor would be a bit like the Conservatives choosing a bookish former Liberal Democrat activist with 'out there' views on the monarchy as their new leader – oh, hang on a minute....

Maybe mindful of the shadow cast by his predecessor, Clough wasted no time in making his presence felt. Under Revie, Leeds had won two First Division titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup, and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, so the new man might have been forgiven for surveying the lie of the land before making too many radical changes. Instead, he left them in no doubt that everything would be different from thereon, reportedly telling the players: "You can all throw your medals in the bin because they were not won fairly."

Liz Truss finds leadership can be a funny old game

Now whether Liz Truss offered similarly direct advice to the Tory Party grandees is not known, but the idea of Michael Gove taking on the role of Billy Bremner, and Priti Patel as a modern-day Norman 'Bite Yer Legs' Hunter does have a certain appeal.

Clough, of course, floundered without his trusty lieutenant Peter Taylor, and this was a problem that Liz, joined at the hip by her best friend and would-be karaoke star Therese Coffey, managed to avoid.

Yet just like Clough, she paid the price for a gung-ho approach to her time in office. She trashed the record of those who went before her – despite being a key player in the previous team – and rode roughshod over those who urged a more cautious approach. She failed to get the crowds to buy into her new style of play, and promised more of the same after a few dodgy performances at the start of the season.

And, just as her authority was starting to ebb away, she responded by trying to play hardball in the dressing room – but found that the players neither feared nor respected her.

So what now for Liz Truss? Well if she follows Clough's example, she will probably depart Downing Street for the television studio, and engage in a slanging match with Boris Johnson on a regional chat show. And who wouldn't want to see that?

Of course Clough, who made his name as the spectacularly successful manager at Derby County, went on to enjoy similar success at arch-rivals Nottingham Forest. So, the logical suggestion would be for Liz to defect to the Labour Party and lead it to a string of stunning landslide election victories.

It sounds ridiculous and fanciful of course, but probably no more so than the events of the past few weeks.

And in the words of arguably the best football manager of the lot, the late, and very, very great, Ron Saunders: "Would you care to bet against it?"

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