Damned If You Do… – 28/11/15

The airwaves and social media channels alike have been red hot with activity and comment, most of it negative, exasperated, mocking and even vituperative in tone, in response to Brentford Co-Director of Football Phil Giles’s statement last night updating the supporters on the current state of play regarding the head coaching position at the club.

This is what he had to say:

In Lee’s last post-match press conference, he discussed the possibility that the Nottingham Forest game would be his last in charge. This was the expectation of both Rasmus Ankersen and myself. Lee’s comments were made in good faith based on the conversations we held last week.

Circumstances this week have meant that we haven’t been able to make the change as originally anticipated. We will continue with our process to find the right long term Head Coach for Brentford, rather than make a hasty appointment.

Lee has done a superb job since taking charge in September and we look forward to our game with Bolton on Monday evening.

This has been enough to rouse much of the fanbase to fury.

Now before everyone starts with the accusation that I am merely a mouthpiece, shill, or an apologist for the club I will make the point that the purpose of these articles is simply for me to spout off and give my opinion about anything and everything that is happening in and around Brentford FC both on and off the pitch.

I try to avoid unnecessary knee-jerk reactions and, unlike Keith Stroud and Brendan Malone, allow myself time to think before making a final decision. I try as hard as I can to avoid factual errors by taking soundings from friends and contacts in and around – and sometimes well outside – the club and I always endeavour to check my sources before rushing into print. I also take the laws of libel very seriously indeed.

Of course I am probably proved wrong as often – or even more so, than I am correct in my musings, but that is just the luck of the draw. I welcome, publish and respond to any and all feedback and comments to what I write and I am quite used and inured to readers telling me that I am deluded in what I have to say.

I have also not held back in heavily criticising the club over its actions whenever I feel that it is justified. Just to give a couple of examples: I felt that certain individuals were naive in the extreme not to anticipate that ongoing behind closed doors negotiations with potential replacements for Mark Warburton would not leak out into the media and cause the horrendous destabilisation that threatened to jeopardise our promotion push last February. I also felt strongly that the club’s initial crisis management was inept and poorly executed in the extreme.

The appointment of Marinus Dijkhuizen was also totally bungled and we do not know yet how much its impact will eventually influence the outcome of this season given that we have been forced onto the back foot ever since.

I have given a great deal of thought to the current managerial or head coaching hiatus and as far as I am concerned the club cannot and should not be criticised in any way, shape or form for how it has managed and continues to deal with a difficult and complex situation.

Here is my reading of affairs and how they have developed since the end of September and the sacking of Marinus. I fully expect however that much of what I set down is not totally accurate but it is as close to the truth that I can get:

  1. An interim Head Coach is needed at short notice and Lee Carsley is the obvious immediate candidate given his previous, albeit limited, managerial experience and the respect he has gained from the entire squad since his arrival last season
  2. Lee is persuaded to sign on for the rest of the season despite his misgivings, possible concerns about the necessary commitment owing to his family situation and preference to remain as a development coach but he is assuaged by the knowledge that the club will be looking for a permanent replacement from the outset
  3. After two initial defeats, Lee Carsley, aided by the invaluable Paul Williams and Flemming Pedersen is able to put his stamp on affairs and the seemingly terminal decline is arrested and reversed. Not only that, the dramatic improvement in results leads to Lee winning a fully deserved Manager of the Month Award for October
  4. Lee remains entirely consistent and honest in all his public statements reiterating his preference for youth coaching and that he feels that he is not ready for a job of this magnitude which requires a far more experienced pair of hands
  5. Efforts are being made behind the scenes to identify and verify potential candidates for the permanent role but Carsley’s success means that he has bought us sufficient time to ensure that a panic or rushed appointment does not have to be made and that the optimum candidate can be sourced and ideally hired
  6. Given his success I would expect that efforts were made to persuade Lee to change his mind and take on the role on a permanent basis. Maybe he even prevaricated and considered the option too, but the end result remains the same. He does not want to continue in his post any longer than is strictly necessary
  7. A short list is being considered and soundings taken and three names appear in the media: Pep Clotet, Dean Smith and Justin Edinburgh
  8. There is no smoke without fire and it soon becomes evident that Clotet is the preferred candidate. He has limited managerial experience but is an acclaimed coach with an excellent track record, particularly for a man of his relative youth, and Swansea, where he is currently employed, would appear to be a benchmark and exemplar for how Matthew Benham wants his club to set up and play in terms of the quality and style of its football
  9. The situation at Swansea, however is complex, confused and ever changing. Will the manager stay, will he be sacked? Is he being pressurised to make changes in his coaching staff? Will the status quo finally prevail? Is the Chairman willing to allow Clotet to leave or does he want him to stay? Is he looking to extract compensation for him? To a large degree these questions remain unanswered and I am certain that there have been shifting sands over the past couple of weeks
  10. Assuming that Clotet is the man and that he has passed our due diligence (it is of course entirely possible that we have changed our mind too), then it must be a difficult, longwinded and frustrating challenge to firstly persuade him to leave the Premier League and take up the job at Griffin Park and then extract him from his current situation
  11. It would appear that last weekend Brentford believed that this interminable process was near to completion and that we were on the verge of announcing an appointment
  12. Lee Carsley was obviously kept fully updated on the progress of all negotiations and therefore quite reasonably made it clear in his post match interview that he fully expected that the Nottingham Forest match would be his last match in charge
  13. Unfortunately the goalposts changed and what we thought was almost a done deal is no longer the case. Has the change of heart come from Clotet? Has his club decided to hang onto him? Are agents muddying the water? Does his family prefer to stay put rather than move to London? Can we keep compensation and salary costs down to a manageable level and remain within our budgetary constraints? I cannot provide any firm answers to these or any other relevant questions
  14. The bottom line is that what we thought and honestly believed would happen has not yet taken place. Maybe the Clotet deal is dead. Perhaps there will, even now, be a change of heart from whoever is holding things up and he will still be appointed. Highly doubtful, in my opinion
  15. More likely we are on to our next preferred candidate who apparently is the Walsall manager, Dean Smith, and hopefully we will have better luck with him
  16. Second choice does not mean second best. I fully expect that we have identified at least two excellent and ideal candidates for the job either of whom the club would be happy to appoint. For my part I would have liked Clotet for the reasons previously expressed and feel that Smith also has the experience at the coalface to do well and has a football philosophy in line with our own
  17. The only consideration is to get things right this time. We cannot afford another poor appointment if the club is to continue to progress as we fully intend. Thankfully we do not have to make an appointment simply for the sake of doing so and can within reason, take whatever time is necessary
  18. As long, of course, as Lee Carsley continues to play ball and is prepared to hold the fort until the new man is in place. I have no idea if he has set a deadline or if he is willing to remain in charge for an indefinite period as necessary. My gut feeling regarding Lee’s state of mind is that the sooner we are in a position to appoint a new Head Coach the better
  19. I would also add that we are only one of three attractive managerial/head coaching vacancies in West London and it does not appear that either Fulham or Queens Park Rangers are having any more success in getting a deal over the line than we are

I feel that the club has acted entirely responsibly in this entire process and does not deserve the flack that it is receiving from all quarters. Hiring a new manager or head coach is an extremely complex and crucial undertaking. There are so many variables that can change or go wrong. You are dealing with a plethora of individuals, from the candidates themselves, to their agents and representatives. You then have to negotiate with the club and cope with family interests as well. In other words there is a lot of juggling that needs to be done and so much is totally out of your own hands.

I am happy and content that Lee Carsley will remain in charge on Monday and know that he will be fully focused on the task ahead. I also know that the massive amount of work being conducted by the club behind the scenes and under the radar will continue until we are ready to announce the identity of our new Head Coach and I am fully confident that this time it will be the right choice.

47 thoughts on “Damned If You Do… – 28/11/15

  1. With us sitting midway in the table and good players coming back that will improve us I am cool with the current situation.When we do get the new man in we will still have the back up team like Williams and countless others to make the transition seamless.When Ranieri took over at Leicester he kept most of Pearsons back room staff and the team have continued with the good form they finished last season.I don’t take any notice of the uninformed stuff aimed at our club and more so Matthew Benham I just get annoyed when our own so called fans join in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think it’s an age thing, Greville. You and Bill are much, much, much older than me, and I see things the same way. 😉


  2. I feel for Lee here. He obviously believed that his tenure was up and was able to state that Forest was his last match, then everything went pear shaped behind the scenes and he is told he is still head coach. If I was in his position, I would have told them where to stick it but there goes a better man than I.


  3. Sound, rational stuff Greville. Keeping a perspective is often difficult when the road is not as smooth as we would like. I well remember my Dad taking me to my first game in 1959 as a 7 year old and then as a worried young man to the crisis meeting in the Braemar Road stand to stave off the proposed QPR takeover. Now that was a crisis!

    I had resigned myself to my beloved Bees always being a bottom 2 tiers club until along came Matthew with his vision, motivation, money and energy to drive the club forwards. I for one believe Matthew will achieve his vision of a Premier league Bees but even if it doesn’t happen I will carry on enjoying the journey, as we are playing the best football I have seen from a Bees side and revel in the real hope that was missing for so many years.

    Finally an endorsement for “Ahead of the Game”. I have just finished reading my copy and thoroughly recommend it to all Bees fans. Get it on your xmas list if you nave’t read it yet.

    Suffolk Bee

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Like all of the comments made, I think your assessment of the situation, Greville, is considered and sounds right.

    I think continuity is important. We don’t want a new head coach coming in and bringing in his own team for the sake of it. We also want to get it right. Providing Lee is happy / willing to continue until a new guy (and we have to assume it is a man – a female head coach – can you imagine the out cry) is appointed, then I can’t see why all the negative comments. Trouble is in the era of 24 hour news, the news industry has to produce news, and when none is forth coming, the lack of news becomes the news.

    The Brentford ship is now stabilized and with the injured players returning and a new head coach at some stage, the rest of the season is something to look forward to – not something I would have written 6 or so weeks ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Absolutely agree with the comments. The only thing that troubles me is an announcement is made and six days later we find that the situation has change. Would the club’s employees be better advised not to make any statements until all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s crossed.

    As a club we tend to look a bit mickey mouse, to the world at large, when things like this happen.


  6. As others have said I agree with your sentiments on this one. We are in a different and more complex world and any of us who have worked in such conditions will attest it means decisions are equally complex, and as you have said, even more impt to get right. My only criticism is that really LC did not need to comment till the deal was totally in place and it of course fuelled the fire. It is sad so many people want to be over negative when for most bees life ain’t ever been better.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Keep up the balanced views please Greville as you are the only person i continue to follow with news on all things Brentford.
    The GPG is not what it was and social media is an excuse for ranting at its worse with vile abuse.
    Opinions by all means….but its not nice to read such comments.
    I personally do not comment anymore and i tried to give some knowledge and personal views that my last post on the GPG recieved headshaking comments from one poster who claims to be balanced.
    Anyway this is not about me,but your views Greville which are welcome and always a good read.
    Thank you.


  8. Excellent summary as always Greville, glad for your balanced input on these matters.

    I agree with the other comments made on here and want to add that maybe the club/staff should have kept quiet about such matters until they were all fully resolved? For example, we knew Warburton was leaving in February which could have been kept quiet until May and now the Lee Carsley situation is all over the media (when it doesn’t have to be in my opinion) which in turn creates all this gossip and uncertainty. Had these been kept out of the public domain as much as possible then maybe there wouldn’t be as many questions left unanswered?

    I for one like the idea of Dean Smith as a potential Manager/Head Coach having worked wonders at Walsall with very limited resources, but whoever gets approached now will know they were at best second choice behind Pep Clotet and that could influence them in deciding whether to take the job or not?

    Thanks again,


    • Good to hear from you Franc. The club had not intention to break the news early about Warburton. The leak did not come from the board or owner although they were naive not to realise that a leak was likely. Second choice does not mean second best. I suspect the club had at least 2 high quality candidates and would be happy and delighted to land either of them

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Not sure why so many people are happy to take a pop at the GPG, yet so few have ever taken the trouble to report a post to the moderators. There are thousands of posts every week on the GPG and it simply isn’t possible for moderators to read them all, which is why there is a facility to report a post. And people should remember that it takes more than one viewpoint to have a debate.

    As for the so-called “flak” that the club is receiving, I really don’t think it amounts to that much. Today’s internet and social media generates a lot of noise about lots of things, but I don’t get the sense that people are anything other than frustrated at the length of time this has taken to sort out. And some people seem to confuse Lee Carsley’s post-match interviews, where he is speaking off-the-cuff, with official club statements, which they are not.

    Just my 2c.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well that’s all fine to assume that the club is behaving in a sensible way and give them the benefit of the doubt, but that isn’t really the point. Just like everybody else, whether positive or negative commenters, you are , interpreting at best, or guessing at worst. Like it or not, managing the media and image of the club is very important, we are a football club in the media spotlight, not a hedge fund. This shouldn’t really be that difficult, since the fans are on the whole prepared to be positive if given the chance, and they need to be able to talk to their QPR and Fulham friends etcetera and sound sensible. You say that the signing of MD was bungled, I disagree, it was the sacking of MD that was bungled, in fact it was a debacle and has seriously damaged my confidence in the club. The club looks like it is not managing things very well off the pitch, and if we have chosen to separate team management from club management along the continental line, this is a serous problem. If you don’t make sensible statements to the media, it looks as if you can’t.


    • I think, although it is easy to do so retrospectively, that the hiring of Marinus was totally bungled as we only took notice of the background information and evidence that supported his selection and ignored negative references about him. As far as the sacking was concerned, people can argue that he could have been given longer or we should have waited until we had a permanent replacement lined up. I do not see where the “debacle” occurred.

      I am a great believer in not saying anything until you have something definite to say. In that regard, Lee Carsley spoke after the Forest game in good faith although I think he should have kept his counsel given that the Clotet deal has not been finalised and the club had to say something on Friday to take away the uncertainty over who is in charge on Monday.

      The poor media management came in February and has been covered by me and many others at great length and the club has rightly been lambasted for that. I think they have leaned a lot of lessons but football is an inexact science and things are often grey and muddied and not black or white and it makes it better to say less in my opinion than more when things are not irrevocably decided.

      I understand where you are coming from and please feel free to write a lot more about it if you would like.

      Thanks again.


      • You can hardly blame LC for speaking his understanding of the situation he was in.

        As far as the lack of research into MD’s references is concerned, to me, that looked like a totally unconvincing a*se covering excuse made by somebody trying to protect his reputation as a talent finding guru. Come on it’s quite ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as saying that the reason for sacking him was problems with his “training ground processes”


    • Greville,you will know that I have been critical of theBFC Board in the past but at the present time I share your view that critics of the current situation would do well to show a little more patience. What is all important is that when the appointment is made we have got the right man

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Have to agree with Spanish Bee, this is new BFC right, we leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of excellence and improvement. So the cumulative effect of our poor handling of the media / PR means that for some of us the club doesn’t escape some criticism on this occasion. Clearly LC & BFC are on a different page and have been since the day he took the position.

    I believe our DoF’s slogan is along the lines if “if it isn’t broken break it” – think about that for a minute and you’ll see how clever he has been in creating a role for himself where whatever happens it is someone else’s fault.

    We haven’t had stability in the main coaching position since February, this isn’t good. To be fair we’ve done ok despite this which suggests a lot at the club is working.

    It seems that our attentions have now moved to Dean Smith, with Clotet turning us down. With so few decent options out there I’d support his appointment. Such a shame that we couldn’t work to the original plan with LC in the role for longer, clearly this was never his interpretation of what was agreed.

    Regardless we do need to get someone in to sort out the top level comms and PR – it is second rate considering where the club is at now.


  12. Thanks Spanish Bee and Rebel Bee. I still do not agree with you. We are human and make errors in recruitment as we did with Marinus.

    Perhaps Spanish Bee can say where he feels the debacle took place and his explanation for why we got rid of him if not for the reasons intimated.

    I totally agree that6 it would be great if our PR and comms were sometimes better and more thoughtful and coordinated but in THIS instance I do not see what else we could have done bar ordering Carsley not to discuss what he felt (correctly at the time) was where he stood last Saturday.

    As for Dean Smith – excellent choice given his background, experience and footballing philosophy. Let’s hope we can get it over the line – no foregone conclusion though!


    • Perhaps Spanish Bee …. his explanation for why we got rid of him.

      Well you tell me, apparently it was down to poor “training ground processes”, make of that what you will.

      The best thing to do in PR is to tell the truth, and if you can’t tell the truth, the next best thing is to keep your mouth shut.


      • Well, that’s interesting, although rather opaque. I have never trained as a professional footballer (I played rugby), so I am ignorant, but I still think that when you have somebody new, in a new environment, with all the problems not of their own fault that MD had to put up with, you try to fix the problem first before you sack them. Unless of course that this training ground problem was so fantastically awful that even with all the coaches we have it was not fixable. It suggest a lack of management capability to me.


  13. For what it is worth I feel that Marinus had far too much to cope with given all the problems that he was faced with in terms of the pitch, injuries, transfers out and trying to fit in so many newcomers who had no experience of English conditions.

    However the view was that he was taking us in a direction that was not going to work.

    I really cannot be more specific than that.

    He was the wrong man at the wrong time and the club is totally to blame for hiring him.

    In terms of giving him longer – if he was still in charge where do you honestly feel we would be in the league table today?


    • These are one person’s opinion against another’s and I don’t sarcasm helps. What can’t be disputed is that under MD we did not win games and played some of the worst football I have seen post MB. Under LC and using the same squad of players, we have started to win games.

      Now there might be some luck involved, but the players seem a lot more happier, playing as a team, and motivated, not something that could be said under MD. The Hoff who was looking to me like a new Nick Proschwitz, is beginning to look quite useful.

      My take is that Lee is a good man manager.


      • Hello Michael I agee, I’m sorry because I did not mean to be sarcastic. If you look at our last two or three seasons they have been, and I quote “rollercoasters”. So I was a bit taken aback when I was told that somebody knows what would have happened.


      • One thing that stood out for me, was how other teams looked so much fitter than us under MD.

        For many seasons, and especially under MW, we were the fittest team around.

        After LC’s first couple of games things seemed to be improving. After the Charlton victory, LC mentioned a couple of times how the players ‘have now got their legs’. (I hope that having to play catch-up in this regard does not impact on the second half of the season.)

        I put this down to MD not fully appreciating how intense and physically demanding English football is. Not fully utilising all the coaches etc. at his disposal is the reason I believe we had to sack MD.

        Anyway, let’s look forwards, and hope we can get a positive result tonight and continue to improve with Dean Smith as Head Coach.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with you Billiam, but surely this was a) predictable, and b) fixable without sacking him after 8 games. All the foreigners have had similar issues, e.g. Jota.


  14. I think we’d have been worse off if Mariunus had still been here, his appointment was a mistake and yet his dismissal left a bad taste for me. It is a fact though that we have not had a settled head coach since Feb. Hopefully this will soon be resolved and if it is to be Smith I’ll be fully on board. If BFC get it right all of this goes away and they’ll enjoy the deserved credit.


  15. Don’t worry about Henners, Greville. He has previous for this ie. resorting to sarcasm when he does not agree with someone, and all this from his ivory tower in Seville from where he can comment with such authority. You get compared to some idiotic comedy character (Corporal Jones) when you have the audacity to suggest that we’re relegation fodder after 10 games, happily conceding two goals every game and normally scoring fewer, and when you react and give it back, he says he’s really getting under your skin. Then Marinus gets sacked and he does an incredible about-turn in the manner of that fine comedy character Andy Pipkin, suddenly agreeing with your original point. Then you get the half-hearted apology as if he really didn’t mean to offend. Obviously not. It’s all a touch strange.

    Anyway, keep up your excellent blog. I don’t always agree with everything but enjoy reading it.




  16. Very true Quique, and possibly more than you deserve.

    Maybe you could adopt a truly top consultant and coach like the charming Rasmus as your role model instead of taking the Donald Trump approach in the future?




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