Sacking, Stroud and statements. Another quiet day at the office

11 Feb

We’ll get to Brentford – Watford in a moment but can only start with yesterday’s speculation around Mark Warburton and the utterly bizarre statement issued by the club in regards to his situation. This, after Matt Hughes in The Times reported he is due to be sacked at the end of the season – even if the Bees reach the Premiership

I’ve read some gumph in my time (including most of this blog site) but this really tops the lot. As a means of providing clarity and reassurance it was about as effective as Keith Stroud in a decision making process.

Written in some form of quasi-legalese, I almost wondered if something had been lost in translation as this was being dictated to the communications team. The wording, grammar and punctuation were so badly structured that I can’t imagine even our staff of being able to deliberately produce something so poor off their own backs.

Perhaps there was a crackling phone line from not Spain that caused the statement to include the analogy (and the rogue commas aren’t mine): “Football is sometimes called a village, and in any village, gossip and rumours can spread like wildfire, whether or not such rumours are true.

East Horsley and Chalfont St Peter are villages (although I have no idea if either are hotbeds of rumour and gossip). The global game of football, even at its most metaphorical, is not. The whole thing was so odd I had images of the media team and back room staff trying out as construction worker, cowboy, traffic cop etc in a Village People tribute video. And that’s not a good place to be.

People spread rumours in the footbaling village

People spread rumours in the footbaling village

By the time it appeared, of course, the horse had long since bolted with the story being picked up far beyond its original source in The Times and shared by, amongst others, Ian ‘Broadcast Moose’ Abrahams on twitter (the journalist taking a rare break from looking at the pre-match catering on offer in Premiership press rooms). Certainly, his reveal of the story with this cutting was a rather rude and somewhat unexpected means of starting the day for many.

My wake up call to this story via Broadcast Moose

My wake up call to this story via Broadcast Moose

The club’s effort was what one terrace observer would later describe as “A kamikaze press release” whilst The London Evening Standard called it “confusing” . The rather bland statement that, “Brentford FC do want to confirm that Mark Warburton remains our manager” did nothing to put anybody’s mind at rest. Rather than the chance of locking up fourth spot or beyond, all anybody was talking about was if we’d even have a manager by kick off.

Ultimately, Matthew Benham has done nothing but right by the club and, whatever the trigger or outcome of this story, I can’t believe anything will happen to change this. Mark Warburton and the team have done fantastically well but managers do come and go.

The lack of any commitment in the club statement only serves to make me think that a parting of the ways is inevitable but what is not clear is whether this is through Mr Warburton’s choice (with QPR reportedly sniffing around) or the club’s.

Crazy? Probably. But on a day which started with so much promise, to go into our biggest ‘must win’ match since the last ‘must win’ match on the back of such uncertainty was as much a mood killer as realising that really was Keith Stroud leading out the teams.

The irony of ending yesterday’s article with the line “The Bees are on fire and it’s going to take more than a referee going rogue to stop us getting three points” has not been lost. Take nothing away from Watford who, but for the heroics of David Button in goal, could have run riot.

However, it’s easier to do this when you are playing against ten men following Jake Bidwell’s sending off. It was a decision which seemed about as robust as a Griffin Park press release and one which produced a similar reaction from the crowd. Watching back on TV afterwards, I am still baffled how he came to the conclusion of ‘straight red’.

View from the terrace - Mr Stroud at the centre of the action, as ever

View from the terrace – Mr Stroud at the centre of the action, as ever

It’s a good thing we loaned our new left back, Jack O’Connell, to Rochdale earlier that afternoon. Could we see a James Tarkowski style quickstep back down to West London, akin to the centre back’s ‘return’ to Oldham last campaign, should the inevitable appeal prove unsuccessful?

Despite this set back, Warbs refused to bring on an extra defender (presumably because nobody else can play there) and just went for it. He was rewarded with a stunner from Andre Gray who, despite looking like he had taken three touches too many, blasted powerfully past Heurelho Gomes from the acutest of angles. The celebration of the players, to a man mobbing Mark Warburton, told us everything we needed to know about the day’s earlier news.

The players show just what Warbs means to them

The players show just what Warbs means to them

1-0 and with the crowd rocking, Mr Stroud did his very best to recreate the Bramall Lane farce (four pens and three red cards) he so infamously spannered two seasons ago by awarding a penalty to Watford. Jonathan Douglas, under minimal pressure, was adjudged to have handled in the box although would later tell Billy Reeves, “I didn’t want to head it back to them, I wanted to chest it. It came off my shoulder”,

No worry. David Button dived low to his left to smoother Troy Deeney’s spot kick and preserve Brentford’s slender lead. But despite Brentford refusing to park the bus, Middlesbrough style, we were eventually undone by a brace from Odion Ighalo .

In truth, it was always coming as Button, my man of the match, did his level best to keep Watford out before being beaten with just over twenty minutes left. You could see what that goal meant to rival ‘keeper Heurelho Gomes. Sporting an uncanny resemblance to Anton LaVey but celebrating more like Anton Du Beke on MDMA, he launched into a display of pirouette laden fist pumping that wouldn’t have been amiss in an Andy Murray – Tim Henman tennis match.

As for the winner, his celebrations (like he’d won the FA Cup) showed just what a huge three points that was for Watford as they overtook the Bees to occupy fifth place in the table.

Well played to Watford who kept going until the very end. For me, the result was just the final nail in a day that will be long remembered, and probably for all the wrong reasons. Even Leeds United managed a win that means they are now a mere 17 points behind the Bees.

What will come of the Warbs’ saga, I have no idea. Will anything become clearer today or will it all be swept under the carpet until the end of the season? My own personal preference would be for Mark to stay and something a bit more positive be released from the press team.

Every call Matthew Benham has made since becoming involved in the club has been a good one and whatever his plans (should he even have any) around Mark are his business. Likewise, I’d back him to the hilt.

However, I’d also hope he is aware of the respect and love the team seem to have for the boss and the passion that inspires.

View from the terrace - Mr Stroud is escorted from the pitch at half time

View from the terrace – Mr Stroud is escorted from the pitch at half time



One Response to “Sacking, Stroud and statements. Another quiet day at the office”

  1. Greville Waterman February 11, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    Spot on Nick!

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