There was little new to report regarding the Brentford management saga on Thursday. Mark Warburton attempted to take the heat out of the situation with a trademark cool, calm and collected press conference where in his customary self-effacing manner, he attempted to pass the spotlight back onto his players rather than discuss and enlarge upon the stand-off between himself and the Brentford owner Matthew Benham.
Warburton stated that the club would be releasing another statement within the next day or so, ideally before the Charlton match on Saturday, and we can only hope that this one sheds more light on and clarifies the situation and is also far more measured and apposite than the club’s last miserable and appallingly drafted effort earlier this week that simply fanned the flames rather than dousing them.
Quite what the statement will say is open to debate, however in my opinion the options are strictly limited. For reasons that I have already written about at great length, and see no purpose in reiterating, I cannot believe that Benham will go back on his decision to change the management team and structure at the end of the season by introducing a new foreign manager more attuned with his way of thinking and desired approach.
That really leaves very little wriggle room for all parties. Mark Warburton will ideally accept that decision with as good a grace as possible, as being the owner’s prerogative and state that he will remain until the end of the season to see out his contract and do his utmost to lead his players to either automatic promotion or the playoffs.
That would enable the club to see out the season with minimal disruption, at least above the surface, and the two parties could continue to work together like a polite separated couple forced to share the marital home before the divorce becomes absolute. That is certainly not an ideal solution but I cannot for the life of me see a better or neater one.
The nuclear options would see Warburton walking out perhaps into another managerial position, or Benham deciding that the situation has now become unworkable and coming to an agreement for an early termination of Warburton’s contract.
That would strike me as cutting off your nose to spite your face and suit nobody as the team would be left leaderless and rudderless given that David Weir would doubtless leave with his boss, and we could end up with the inexperienced Lee Carsley, Kevin O’Connor and Simon Royce acting as caretakers as we come into the business end of the season. A terrible solution and one that would doubtless spell the end of our promotion challenge.
The only other possibility, slim though it is, would see Warburton and Weir agree to stay on next season, perhaps in a reduced and changed role, but doubtless reporting to the new manager or head coach, however he is titled.
I cannot see these two proud and talented individuals, who in the eyes of the overwhelming majority of the supporters, as well I am sure in their own, have done little or nothing wrong, acceding to such a retrograde or backwards step.
As for the players, it is up to them to continue to act in a professional manner and simply get on with the job of winning football matches to the best of their ability. Whilst there is no “I” in “team”, footballers are essentially playing for themselves and to ensure their future. Whoever is the manager next season, or indeed, for the remainder of the current campaign, there are contracts and bonus payments to be earned and once they have absorbed and got over the initial upset and distraction I fully expect that the team will just get on with things and, indeed, the current situation might well prove be a motivating rather than destabilising influence on them all.
As it is they will be going into a tough local derby at Charlton without the suspended Jake Bidwell and with James Tarkowski and Alex Pritchard also trying to recover in time from injuries sustained on Tuesday night against Watford. The whole squad will need to pull together and contribute as one and I fully believe that they are up to the task.
There is doubtless a lot of negotiation and jockeying for position going on behind the scenes and perhaps there has already been a statement drafted and perhaps redrafted a number of times with the legal eagles now getting involved.
The most important thing is that the show goes on and that there is at least an appearance of unity and consensus before the team steps out onto the pitch at Charlton on Saturday afternoon.
Everyone has worked far too hard to allow the season to slip away as there is much at stake, and I also believe that despite what has happened this week, Matthew Benham and Mark Warburton still hold a high regard and deep respect for each other and hopefully will find a way to continue to work together, even if only for another few months, so as to ensure that we keep our focus and maintain our challenge at the top of the Championship.
I remain in no doubt that the mid to long term future for the club remains a glittering one, however it is the immediate short term that really concerns me, and whatever is currently being debated and hopefully agreed behind closed doors will decide how matters will turn out.
This week has shown the club in an extremely poor light with a number of own goals being scored and supporters left confused and bemused as they are seemingly being asked to choose between supporting Benham or Warburton, an impossible choice, when in truth both men are heroes and icons to us all.
Now is the time for both parties to handle matters sensibly and correctly, restore the reputation of the club and get things back on track.