Nigel Clough’s arrival at Liverpool was heralded with great excitement. He was seen as a prototype Liverpool player. Graeme Souness had shelled out over £2.28 million pounds to bring the Nottingham Forest playmaker to Anfield.
He was handed the much-feted number seven shirt worn by icons like Kevin Keegan and Peter Beardsley. The size of the task at hand was made all too clear as immediate comparisons were made with one Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish.
Not blessed with blistering pace, Clough relied on his great vision and was always two steps ahead thanks to his sharpness and clever movement.
Clough was a thinking footballer who had a canny knack of scoring his fair quota of crucial goals. He scored twice on his debut and also against QPR a few days later. Thereafter followed five games without a goal. The emergence of an 18-year-old Robbie Fowler scored to add further weight to loudening calls for his inclusion in the first team ahead of Clough or Ian Rush. A goal followed against West Ham in the following game, which was then followed by a barren spell until the new-year.
Undoubtedly his best performance in a Liverpool shirt was the Premier League showdown with Manchester United at Anfield. The Red Devils took a 3-0 lead within 24 minutes through Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin and Ryan Giggs. By the end of a pulsating 90 minutes, Clough had scored two goals to claw back the deficit and with 12 minutes on the clock fellow new boy Neil “Razor” Ruddock raised the Kop roof as he thundered in a header to ensure that the spoils were shared.
There were no further goals that season as Robbie Fowler, who earlier had scored against Fulham in the League Cup and followed that up with all five in the Anfield return leg began to establish himself as the successor to Rush.
The sprightly Robbie Fowler finished the season with 18 goals in all competitions and regularly hogged the back page column inches. By the time the old Kop was demolished, Fowler had taken Clough’s position alongside Ian Rush. Souness dropped Clough junior to midfield where he enjoyed a short spell as an attacking midfielder.
The 1994/95 season saw ten league appearances and no goals. Fowler and Rush were still scoring freely and the close of season saw the arrival of another acquisition from Forest - Stan Collymore. Two further appearances that season until Alan Ball signed him for Manchester City in 1996.
Clough made 44 appearances at Liverpool, scoring nine goals. He made 14 appearances for the full England team.
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