David Peace’s harrowing novel on Brian Clough’s tumultuous 44-day reign at Leeds United brought anger from the manager’s family and legal action from his former players.

Tom Hooper’s screen adaptation is unlikely to draw such a reaction, painting a far warmer, far less brutal but nonetheless equally engaging version of events.

The film opens with Don Revie’s (Colm Meaney) resignation from Leeds and Clough’s subsequent appointment, before the story jumps back and forward from Clough’s glory days at Derby County and the calamitous start to his tenure at Elland Road.

We see how the seeds of disaster were sown in the early years, as Clough's (Michael Sheen) dislike of Revie rivalry grows more and more intense and out of control.

Casual observers of Clough’s career may be surprised to find just how un-genius like he appears as his reign at Leeds stumbles from one crisis to another.

There is little doubt the lessons he learned, not to mention the pay-off he received, were vital to his later success at Nottingham Forest.

The film is blessed with outstanding performances. Sheen is excellent as Clough, nailing his recognisable Middlesbrough accent to perfection.

But he is upstaged somewhat by a wonderfully warm performance by Timothy Spall as under appreciated assistant Peter Taylor. At times the film almost becomes a buddy movie, the relationship between Clough and Taylor providing poignant human drama leading to some fantastic scenes.

Meaney is eerily accurate as Revie, while players Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles are played by Stephen Graham and Peter McDonald.

The era is recreated effortlessly with ramshackle stands, muddy pitches and ashtrays in the dressing room. Clough’s TV appearances, effortlessly recreated by Sheen, are delightful in their execution and another highlight while clips from classic matches force home the point this is sport from a different age.