In February 1979 I interviewed Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough for BBC’s Football Focus on why he made Trevor Francis Britain’s first ever million pound player. Cloughie’s reasoning was simple” Listen young man” he declared “If Trevor Francis scores the winning goal in the European Cup Final he’s paid the fee”. Three months later Francis delivered the European Cup to Nottingham with a header in first half injury time. It was the only goal in the game against Malmo.
A million pounds was a huge amount of money in those days but Cloughie didn’t even blink. He was a football genius who also understood football economics. You pay for success. If Louis Van Gaal believes Gareth Bale can win a Champions League title he should persuade United’s board to pay what seems like an astronomical 100 million pounds fee if necessary. Thirty six years ago Brian Clough proved it works.