Warburton’s Words – 21/4/15

I do so enjoy reading Manager Mark Warburton’s regular article in the Bees Review match day programme. They are invariably measured, thoughtful, pithy and to the point, just like the man himself and are quite evidently self-penned and not the work of some anonymous hack or ghost in the media department. He takes the time and trouble to open the dressing room door ajar and allow supporters to sneak inside the secretive, arcane and cloistered world of professional football, and he generally provides a deep and personal insight into some fascinating aspect of the club, playing squad or, indeed, the team behind the team.

I particularly like the courteous way he welcomes the opposition manager by name and remarks how much he is looking forward to sharing a drink with him after the game. For me, at least, his words conjure up vivid images of a convivial gathering with the two of them sitting down at a table covered with a spotless white starched tablecloth, napkins around their neck, with David Weir serving a selection of carefully sliced triangular cucumber sandwiches and cutting up the Battenberg, and Kevin O’Connor pouring cups of tea all around. I am sure that the reality is somewhat different and far more akin to the Liverpool Boot Room with the two managers drinking a can of beer together and quietly reflecting on their respective fortunes in the hard fought game recently finished. Just in passing I must try and unearth my dog-eared copy of the Rotherham programme from January 10th and see if Warburton extended the same hospitality to Steve Evans as not only would he undoubtedly hog all the food on offer but also Evans in his customary full-on post-match hectoring and hyperbolic rant mode would surely turn out to be a most unwelcome, loudmouthed and unsavoury guest!

I read Mark’s article in Saturday’s programme with particular interest as he took the belated opportunity to look back three months in time and comment in great detail about his perspective on what happened, or perhaps more specifically what didn’t, in the January transfer window. Firstly let’s review the facts. We managed to bring in four players and, perhaps just as crucially, we lost nobody from our squad. We signed a promising young midfielder, Josh Laurent, from QPR, spent heavily on one of Scotland’s top prospects in Rangers starlet Lewis Macleod, bought highly rated left-sided defender Jack O’Connell from Blackburn Rovers for a reported quarter of a million pounds and signed England Under-20 international striker Chris Long on loan from Everton.

Our three permanent signings share similar characteristics in being young, inexperienced and highly talented and they all appear to have the potential to develop into exceptionally valuable long-term assets for the club. Unfortunately what is far more pertinent at the present time is that between them none of them have contributed in the slightest for us yet at first team level or have even played one minute’s football in the Championship. We did have high hopes and expectations for Macleod but he arrived as damaged goods and has been a permanent sick note ever since, managing a grand total of forty-five eminently forgettable minutes for the Development Squad a few weeks back. He has now been put back into cold storage for next season when we can but hope that he manages to get himself fully fit and earns a place in our revamped midfield.

O’Connnell was sent straight back on loan to Rochdale where he really impressed in a team challenging for the Division One playoffs and justifiably earned a recall to his parent club. Despite our continued problems and adventures in central defence he has yet to be given his opportunity, although he has looked the part sitting on the bench! Next season perhaps? Laurent has no Football League pedigree but is an educated gamble for the future. Long is also short on experience but has impressed with his enthusiasm and eye for goal when given an opportunity, however he has been plagued with injuries and illness and has only made ten appearances including a mere two starts. Four goals is a more than decent return, but the overall feeling about our January signings is one of frustration and disappointment at their overall lack of contribution. Frankly they looked more like signings for January 2016 rather than this year and have done little or nothing to either strengthen or assist us in our promotion push.

One possible inference from the lack of immediate impact of our new arrivals in January is that they really were intended for the future rather than the present and that the management were more than content with what they already had in terms of the strength, make-up and chemistry of the squad and were simply looking to tinker rather than make radical improvements.

Warburton’s explanation is totally different in that he claims that key players were targeted both at home and abroad who would have added quality and depth to the squad, but for a variety of reasons every deal fell through. He mentioned player or agent financial demands that did not represent good value for Brentford or the requirement that potential loanees had to be automatic starters. Warburton categorically denied turning down any high quality players who were within our grasp and who would also have improved us.

Certainly it was rumoured at the time that funds were available and that strenuous efforts were being made to sign players of the calibre of giant Colombian central defender Bernardo from Sporting Gijon and top Austrian striker Marco Djuricin from Sturm Graz. Despite our apparent efforts, Bernardo remained at his present club and Djuricin allegedly snubbed us in favour of a move to Red Bull Saltzburg where he gone on to win a full international cap for Austria. Whilst it is impossible to be categoric, given their quality, they or their ilk, would probably have made a massive difference to our fortunes had they arrived at Griffin Park and settled down to life in London.

“Hindsight is always twenty-twenty” as Billy Wilder so memorably stated and it is very easy to look back from our position today, outside the Playoff positions and anticipating the increasing possibility of a massive missed opportunity, and assert that we made a massive error in not strengthening in January, but if we are to take Warburton’s words at face value, which of course I do, then it wasn’t for the want of trying.

What really surprised me was the timing of his remarks and that Warburton chose to raise this subject now, months after the event, when the season is approaching its climax, rather than wait until the postmortem after the season ends next month. Conspiracy theorists have been hard at work with their convoluted explanations for why we failed to bring home the bacon in January so perhaps Warburton simply wished to rebut them, but it is difficult to reconcile oneself to the sight of Harlee Dean acting as our sole emergency striker in a “must-win” game on Saturday after the withdrawal of Andre Gray. A promotion chasing team should not have allowed itself to be reduced to such straits at this crucial stage of the season.

I have invariably found Mark Warburton to be open and honest in words and deeds alike, and this article is no exception, but the fact remains that our promotion rivals succeeded in January where we failed and the cost is likely to be high.

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22 thoughts on “Warburton’s Words – 21/4/15

  1. A well balanced overview of the situation, unlike some I have seen. People are feeling deeply dissapointed and this is giving rise to all manner of accusations and implication. Seems Warbs was aware of the rising tide of resentment, much of which is being fired by unjust conclusions, and decided to quell the flames. He has put his case, some don’t believe him but in such loaded circumstance there will always be those who can’t accept that misfortune was a major factor in our downfall.

    Me I couldn’t bear to watch the Bolton game back on Bees player or watch the Football League show. I can barely look up the details of the next game it all seems so flat after such a season of hope. We could still do it but……

    Ah well such is football. I think Warbs will learn from it (I know it’s his own big Cliche) it’s a real shame he won’t be doing it with us.,,but that Fulham game still makes me smile 🙂

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  2. As always a good read which provokes much thought. I sense that MW now feels the need to present the facts on signings, or lack of as he sees them, probably because there are a few dissenting fan voices from the “ITK” brigade, and little support from elsewhere in the club. Also because he now knows that a reconciliation isn’t going to happen. Who could blame him for that, maybe it would be better to wait, on the other hand it would have been better for BFC to wait before discussing his job with others, if rumours and reports are true this now includes Gianfranco Zola @ GP on Saturday.

    Anyone who knows me will confirm that I’m firmly of the view that we’ve had a fantastic season, aren’t ready to progress yet, and with MW at the helm we would come back more savvy and prepared to make the step up in good time. To be where we are now, after all that has happened represents an outstanding achievement in my eyes, nothing will change that view.

    That doesn’t mean that analysis of the squad and our deficiencies aren’t reasonable, the continual lapses at the back haven’t improved, and we really do lack the quality up front when compared to the other 7 teams around us. Defensively there is probably more justification for criticism, Tony Craig & O’Connell can count themselves very unlucky not to have had some games recently. I’ve real sympathy with MW over the situation up front, where we’ve been unlucky, initially with Hogan’s injury, then with Long’s problems, I don’t however feel blame is justified for our failure to sign anyone in January, I believe all efforts were made and we just couldn’t get what we needed, in this league finding a proven striker is difficult and very costly. Correct me if I’m wrong but hasn’t Djuricin managed one goal since opting to go to Salzburg?

    One final thought, MW has had to do this already very pressurised job in extremely trying circumstances, circumstances where he has managed in a climate where his employer wanted to change his role and limit his responsibilities – otherwise not renew his contract . Everyone should imagine trying to do their own job in the same situation – just think about it for a moment. He could have walked, gone to another club, instead he has stood up and done his job, with a lot of decency and class. Ok we may fall short of the play offs – but any analysis of his work needs to take this into account.

    We may yet smash Reading and Wigan and storm the play offs, who knows? I’m not troubled either way – this is the best season I’ve known – and for that I’m thankful.

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      • I just feel that in this instance I need to be slightly circumspect in terms of any insinuations that are made publicly regarding a sensitive situation.

        Maybe I am being unnecessarily cautious in which case I am sorry I deleted your comment but whilst we have all heard rumours and accusations re what transpired nothing is certain or can be proved.

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      • It is possible to support MB and be grateful for all that he has done, and at the same time feel sad about events and the impending departure of a great manager. Maybe even disagree a little, MB won’t mind that too much I’m sure. I may have issues with the way news of MW’s departure came about, and the judgement by some on his time at the club since, but I’m 100% Brentford and will support MB and the new team accordingly.

        Anyone who considers themselves to be a real supporter should get themselves to the 2 games ahead. Respect the championship – a very high quality and exciting division. Anyone throwing in the towel now, whilst there are 6 big points to play for, needs to have a look at themselves. Regardless MW deserves a great send off, everyone should give him just that and then we can all move on.

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      • Response to your “too many ITK on GPG”think most fans not ITK appreciate Alan Birds Knowledge of the inner workings of the club and the great service he has given over the years.The post I was directing you to was not an opinion but a fact.

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      • I wasn’t referring to AB as an ITK – plenty on the GPG are though, from all I’ve seen I’ve the utmost respect for AB. Nevertheless I feel your point of view on MW’s time at BFC and upcoming departure is extremely harsh & your description of the last 3 months isn’t one I recognise. As an example the performance I witnessed at Derby was as good as I’ve seen from any BFC team, you saw it differently, negatively.

        I’m not anti MB at all, I just think we should allow MW to complete the season & move on with the same class he has shown us. I think we will miss him.

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  3. Blimey mate,is that you Mark?cant agree with much of that.I have found MWs version of January events inconsistent and bordering on farce.I have also found his post match interviews tedious forever stating “we will learn”””how far we’ve come””talented squad”ect.The sooner this sorry last 3 months is over and the new man steps in the better.Would hate the crowd to turn on him if we lose the next 2 games but he’s been on a Sinatra farewell for long enough.Time for the crowd to get behind the man he didn’t want to work for a true Bees fan who without I doubt if we would ever have heard of the name Warburton other than when we went to the bread shop.
    Roll on the new era where we will move on to even better times.

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    • A “sorry last 3 months” that included the total destruction of Fulham amongst other notable highs, and the highest league finish in generations. Yer I’m really looking forward to seeing the back of all that.

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      • Good for you mate if you think one great result against our struggling neighbours that many teams have destroyed makes up for the games v Charlton Wednesday Birmingham Cardiff Millwall Derby (who shipped 5 goals a week later against Huddersfield and Bolton they you are easily pleased.Think some fans need to read Alan Birds summery of the January situation on the GPG that puts it all to bed imho

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      • Not forgetting Bournemouth & Blackburn, but don’t let those performances spoil your sunny outlook. I prefer not to read the GPG – far too many ITKs from what I hear – all looking to dump on the accomplishments of our finest post war manager.

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    • I think the crowd is totally behind MB and it is also difficult for most supporters to view MW in anything but a supportive manner given the success of the past 2 seasons since he took over. Of course things might have been done differently in January and the article is firm on the detrimental effect of our lack of real strengthening. There are many views as to the whys and wherefores but whilst we might all have strong personal views some care has to be taken when expressing them in public.

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  4. Good article, measured and balance, as always. I am with Rebel Bee. It has been a great season but being honest I don’t think we are ready to go up.

    If I cast my mind back to past games when watching the Bees sometimes made one lose the will to live, this season the football has been a joy to watch. In fact the only boring game in my view was against Blackpool, because it was just so one sided. So we are in a game where we win 4-0 and I was bored ! ! !

    I am left wondering if MW has gone as far as he could with the Bees. As the season went on, and as teams began to work out our strengths and weaknesses we did not adapt (the Plan B = go to Plan A scenario), and maybe he needs to learn from that.

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