In the days following his sacking from Leeds United in 1974, Yorkshire Television achieved the broadcasting coup of convincing Brian Clough to share the same studio as the predecessor he so despised, Don Revie, to sift through the wreckage of his brief yet explosive 44 days in charge of the club.
A testy, psychologically-fascinating exchange between the two managerial giants made for compelling viewing.
Watch it below if you have a spare 20 minutes.
Clough defended his corner carefully and tenaciously while Revie sought to uphold the honour of the players who still loved him so, as well as aiming a few digs at his rival, who had undone much of his good work in a tempestuous spell in charge of the reigning champions.
Towards the end of their verbal joust came a telling exchange. Revie turned to Clough, brown sideburns bristling against a mouldy green backdrop, to ask why, having been such a vocal critic of Leeds’ uncompromising style, he took the job at all. Clough relayed what he had told the Leeds players at the start of his truncated reign: “I want to win the league, but I want to win it better.” “There’s no way you could win it better,” said Revie. “Why not?” “We’d only lost four matches.” “Well I could only lose three,” came the reply.
Clough, of course, was unable to play out his dream of proving Revie wrong. But the subject of improving on greatness is a recurring one in football, and contemporaneous when applied to Arsenal's Champions League opponents, Bayern Munich.
Pep Guardiola had a daunting task ahead of him - and one that even Clough would have winced at - when replacing Jupp Heynckes, who oversaw the most dominant season in the history of German football. Last term Bayern won the treble and smashed all number of Bundesliga records in the process; but Guardiola has, incredibly, managed to improve the best club side on the planet.
The man who won 14 trophies as Barcelona coach has overseen tactical changes – most notably the transformation of Philipp Lahm from the world’s best full-back to a defensive midfielder of real repute – and integrated a key new signing in Thiago, who has added an extra dimension to their play from midfield.
But Guardiola’s influence on Bayern has really manifested in the records they have already broken this season in Germany, and the records they seem likely to break before the end of the Bundesliga season.
At the weekend, a 6-1 win over Wolfsburg extended their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to a record 49 games – coincidentally equalling the mark set by Arsenal in 2003-2004, who in turn surpassed a record set by Clough at Nottingham Forest – but this headline statistic only scratches at the surface of Bayern’s comprehensive domination of Germany this season.
The records set by Heynckes’ side last season looked near unbeatable but, as the stats below - assembled with the help of Opta – demonstrate, Guardiola has taken the German champions onto a new level.
He is winning better, as Clough once strived to do.
THE 15 RECORDS BROKEN THIS SEASON
15: Most wins in the first half of a Bundesliga season.
16: Most consecutive Bundesliga wins (ongoing).
16: Most consecutive games scoring at least two goals (ongoing).
22: Most wins after 24 games.
24: Most consecutive games unbeaten from the start of a season (ongoing, shared with Bayer Leverkusen, 09-10).
31: Most consecutive games unbeaten away from home (ongoing).
31: Most consecutive away games scored in (ongoing).
47: Most points in the opening half of a Bundesliga season.
49: Consecutive unbeaten games (ongoing).
61: Longest scoring run (ongoing).
61: Best goal difference after 24 games.
68: Most points after 24 games.
72: Most goals after 24 games.
93: Most points in a calendar year (from 99).
93.94: Highest percentage of possible points won in one calendar year.
AND THE 15 RECORDS WHICH COULD YET FALL
1: Fewest losses in a season (two teams) – Currently 0.
2.68: Highest average points per game (Bayern Munich, 12-13) – Currently 2.83.
6: Most games left when being named champions (Bayern Munich, 12-13).
9: Most consecutive away wins (Bayern Munich, 12-13) – Currently 8.
18: Fewest goals against in a single season (Bayern Munich, 12-13) – Currently 11.
21: Most clean sheets in a season (Bayern Munich, 12-13) – Currently 14 with 10 games remaining.
25: Biggest margin of victory between first and second (Bayern Munich, 12-13) – Currently 20.
28: Most consecutive games unbeaten in a season (Dortmund, 2011-12) – Currently 24.
29: Most wins in a season (Bayern Munich, 12-13) – Currently 22 with 10 games remaining.
34: Scoring in every game of the season (Bayern Munich, 12-13) – Can be equalled.
49: Most points in the closing half of a season (Bayern Munich, 12-13) – Currently 21 from 21 with 30 to play for.
49: Most points in a season from home games (three teams) – Currently 36 with 15 to play for.
80: Best goal difference in a season (Bayern Munich, 12-13) – Currently +61.
91: Most points in a season (Bayern Munich, 12-13) – Currently 68 with 30 points to play for.
101: Highest number of goals scored in one season (Bayern Munich, 71-72): Currently 72.
VIEW FROM MUNICH - Dirk Adam (Eurosport Germany)
Pep Guardiola is probably the best coach in the world. He would be allowed to formulate his plans 100% in any club in the world because of his reputation.
The best example of this Philipp Lahm. Guardiola has turned him from a right-back into a central midfielder and now Lahm is playing better than ever before and even the national team has moved him to that position.
Guardiola is also a great at rotating a collection of world class players. Nobody knows ahead of time who will be playing and who will not. His seems to be able to motivate every one of them to fight for their spot which keeps competition inside the squad high.
Bayern are now much stronger than they were even under Heynckes. They have improved statistically in possession, pass percentage and scoring chances. They look a class operation all over the pitch and are very flexible.
On current form, they look almost unbeatable.
Tom Adams - @tomEurosport
- Sports & Recreation
- Bayern Munich
- Brian Clough
- Pep Guardiola