Day Of Reckoning – 17/2/15

Now I know how it must feel to be one of massed crowd of supplicants in St Peter’s Square waiting eagerly for the puff of white smoke that signifies the election of a new pope and I can well identify with their frustration when all they see, instead, is the Fumata Nera, or dark smoke that signifies that the necessary two thirds majority has yet to be achieved.

What’s all this got to do with Brentford FC, you might well ask? Well, along with every other Bees supporter I was hoping to to see on Monday the long awaited statement that promised to bring an end to an appalling week of indecision, muddled thinking and strife at the club that has prevailed ever since The Times revealed the supposed intention of Matthew Benham to replace Mark Warburton as manager of the club at the conclusion of what had, until the publication of Matt Hughes’s fateful article, been an season of phenomenal and exponential progress and success both on and off the field.

Everything turned to dust as the week progressed with no satisfactory explanation or resolution from within the club and and Brentford’s reputation became increasingly sullied with know-it-all commentators throughout the media treating our club as a laughing stock rather than as the ambitious, well run, groundbreaking and united institution that we supporters had thought it to be.

Since last June I have written one hundred and seventy-five articles which have mainly been a paean of praise to the club. Over the course of over two hundred thousand words I have referred time after time to Brentford’s forward thinking, vision, ambition and sense of community, how the club and its supporters connect as one, as well as the groundbreaking partnership of Benham and Warburton.

For the last week I have been doubting myself and my judgement. Did I get it entirely wrong? Recent years had seen a universal sense of wonderment and disbelief as an ugly duckling was transformed into a beautiful and elegant swan. Today I look back at some of the words I have written with bemusement and disbelief as the club that I love and admire is unrecognisable and seems almost to have returned to the bad old days and dark ages.

The last week has been a total and utter shambles, a complete mess entirely of the club’s own making that has, temporarily at least, destroyed the bond and unity between club, players, owner, management and supporters. A bond that had contributed so greatly to our success. A case study of ineptitude, hubris, naivety and stupidity. In years to come I am sure that they will teach Brentfordgate as a case study in how to self-destruct and threaten to destroy something that looked so promising. As Richard Littlejohn would say “You cannot make this up”!!

With the future of the manager up in the air, as well as rumours of disagreements behind the scenes and bungled transfer approaches it was not surprising that the team reacted accordingly with an appallingly tepid and seemingly disinterested performance at the weekend as they visibly disintegrated, and were resoundingly defeated by a Charlton team that had not previously tasted victory for three months. Fans turned on fans, some were in the pro-Benham camp, others pro-Warburton and the reputation of two good men who have both proved in concert to be unparalleled saviours of the club were appallingly and unforgivably vilified by confused and ignorant supporters who should still have known far better.

Immediate remedial action was required before the wound turned septic, and a statement was promised that would ideally set our disturbed minds at rest, take us off life support, out of intensive care and back on the road to recovery. We are still waiting.

I fully realise that after last week’s initial bungled attempt at an explanation that begged more questions than it provided answers, it is crucial that what we are hopefully about to receive is cogent, logical, agreed by all parties and brings closure in such a way as to allow all elements at the club, owner, management team, players and supporters to come together so that we can again feed off each other, regain our unity and trust and even resume our assault on the playoffs. Wishful thinking perhaps but totally necessary if irreparable damage is not to be done.

What made the timing even more crucial for me is the fact that the players return to training today and we need to get them back on message and totally focused on the task at hand rather than on what is happening behind the scenes. Footballers hate uncertainty and they need to know who their manager is and whether he still retains the trust and support of the owner. Only then might they put the last week behind them and be in the right frame of mind to perform to the level that is required and necessary if the season is not to end in disarray, particularly with AFC Bournemouth due to visit us on Saturday.

I wrote the other day of the potential messages that the statement could convey and unless Matthew Benham is a total magician who can conjure a new manager plus coaching and support staff out of his hat this morning then there is really only one option that seems likely and practicable or indeed less damaging than the alternatives.

Like many others I felt that given Saturday’s spineless surrender at The Valley it would be necessary if appallingly callous for Mark Warburton to be sacrificed immediately, but now I believe that that would serve no purpose and only cause far more problems than it solved. The only way forward is for there to be a firm statement, backed up by a visit today to the training ground by the owner, that states clearly and categorically that whilst he and Warburton have regrettably agreed to part company once the manager’s contract expires, they have discussed and sorted their immediate differences and are both totally committed to working together for the remainder of the season to ensure that our impetus is restored and that we finish in as high a position as possible. In that regard there will be an immediate influx of a couple of loan signings that will bolster the squad for the tough games that lie ahead ahead and help us maintain our challenge in and around the top of the league.

Just as the Roman Emperors gave their subjects circuses and gladiatorial shows, we supporters need to have our minds distracted from the current hiatus by the arrival of a centre half and a striker, and not more callow eighteen year olds still wearing their pimples with pride, but a couple of battle hardened and probably expensive professionals who will add value and contribute from the start of their stay at the club. Not easy to find, I grant you, but that is what a scouting department is for.

The season is balanced on a tightrope and can go either way. We can plummet to our doom or we can hold on tight and maintain our balance and equilibrium. I expect to know which way we will go within the next day or so.


6 thoughts on “Day Of Reckoning – 17/2/15

  1. I can only surmise that the lack of white smoke is due to ongoing discussions or legal issues. Otherwise it’s beyond belief & continues to fuel fan anger & detract from us getting back on track on the pitch.

    Whilst the anger is justified we all seem to be having a pop at someone, instead we need to try to channel everything into turning out in force on Saturday & getting behind the team. If the raw emotions can be directed then watch out Bournemouth, if not we will get a hiding.


  2. Good read as always. Beesgate will be with us a long time. On a personal note I would rather MW go now if he is going in 3 months anyway. I can’t deal with that scenario. We are just about safe from relegation.
    Also I am a bit aghast that the players have had two days off after a defeat which seems to have had as much to do with attitude rather than opposition.


  3. Greville

    Very well written. You could have a career beckoning here.

    What a horlicks. I think MB has been shocked by this little episode and he won’t have liked it one little bit. Having been the Messiah since he arrived, even the slightest hint that his halo may have slipped will concern him greatly. As a private individual and family man, he will be very alert to any brickbats (and worse) being thrown his way. If it became too much, would he consider bailing out of the Brentford project? This of course is every fan’s nightmare.

    I would hope not but it would be naïve if anyone thought it couldn’t happen. Let’s face it, Brentford are no longer the only football club he owns.

    I think we are a long way from any of this but there are lessons here for everyone.

    My take on it is that the best solution for everyone including MB and MW is for their partnership to be cemented now for the next couple of years. They need each other.

    MB has in MW an intelligent, smart manager who knows English football and who is coveted by many other clubs and fans. Appointing another manager – and especially a foreign manager is high stakes. As an occasional betting man, I would think it is more prone to fail than to succeed.

    MW has a club that he has moulded, which understands what he is trying to do and which supports him fully. Crucially he has a wise and smart owner who wants to spend money. How many other sets of fans would kill to have an owner like that? Put the two together and it is a potentially explosive combination as we have seen over the last 18 months.

    When you then consider that we are moving to a new stadium, are growing our fan base and an assault on the Premier League is now an expectation rather than a dreamy aspiration, both men can deliver what the other wants.

    MW can take us to the Prem, improve his stock and use us as a springboard to a bigger club – and why not? No Bees fan would begrudge him pursuing his career if he had taken us to the Elysian Fields. I see no reason why MW shouldn’t manage England one day.

    MB can get us there through his determination, pedantic planning and analysis and importantly his willingness to spend when he finds the right player.

    The truth is that no-one except probably MB and MW know the whole story. If there needs to be collateral damage to secure this platform going forward then so be it.

    They are both very intelligent men and so the hope must be that they will realise that they are best off sticking together. Their intelligence will also allow them to ignore hubris and to repair their relationship and hopefully to make it even stronger going forward.

    Paul Holland

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    • Brilliantly and lucidly put Paul and I will probably use it if there’s another article to be written on this sorry mess.

      I just think that the relationship is probably now compromised beyond repair and that the owner’s stats aw telling him to go in a different direction.


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