The creators of such docudramas as The Queen
re-team for this period sports chronicle set in 1974. In England, the Leeds United players retain a status as the preeminent champions of their football league. Unfortunately, the manager to whom the team owes much of its success, visionary Don Revie (Colm Meaney
), promptly leaves the unit to take over the England team. His replacement, the slick and confident Brian Clough (Michael Sheen
), is publicly known as a vociferous critic of the team's approach to games. Clough has some experience and success to back him up -- in flashbacks, the film details how he and his business partner Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall
) coached Derby County from the bottom of the Second Division to the League Championships, though they had much less success working with the Brighton team later on. For various reasons, Taylor refuses to accompany Clough to his new post in Leeds, so Clough must go it alone. Clough wastes no time aggressively attempting to modify the playing style of the team -- he dictates that they play more attractively, and less violently. This clashes with the intentions of the team members, however. When the players hit the field, they find it extraordinarily difficult to adapt to the mandates of their new coach, which sets the stage for a series of losses and puts Clough's reputation on the line.