Heard the one about the Premier League-bound football team that told their manager his reward for getting them there would be the sack?
The punchline isn’t great and not in the slightest bit funny… unless of course you’re a fan of any of Brentford’s promotion rivals.
So as we wake up to the empty feeling usually associated with a cheating partner, there are two things Bees fans (as the videos above underline) need to know about the situation unravelling at Griffin Park.
First, Owner Matthew Benham HAS told Mark Warburton, David Weir and Frank McParland their services will no longer be required come May.
And second, Mr Benham HAS earmarked a Spanish manager to replace him with a model that will almost inevitably mean a large influx of Latin and Continental talent.
Throw in a media statement that looked like it had been drafted by a room full of chimps pulling random words from a hat and you have a potentially season defining recipe for disaster.
The players’ reaction as Andre Gray thumped Brentford into the lead last night spoke volumes for how they felt about what can only be described as the club’s jaw-dropping naivete over this whole sorry affair.
I don’t know Matthew Benham but, like all other Bees fans, appreciate everything he has done for the club but his decision to relieve Warburton and Co of their duties at such a sensitive stage of the season is a breathtaking error of judgement.
More importantly than that though, it flies in the face and sticks two fingers up at every single value and principle that our incredible club holds dear.
As I walked away from the ground last night my mate, a Stoke fan delighted at our progress, sent me a text which I think sums up the whole situation.
It read simply “Heroic show by the players but the mask of a family club slipping with the machinations of those at the top”.
Then in the car, my lad, a 19-year-old who has seen enough to know it isn’t always this good, turned to me and said “Dad, if we’re going to become a club like Cardiff City trying to buy success I’m not sure I’ll come next season”.
And as City fans will tell you, throwing money at something doesn’t always guarantee success.
It’s about carefully building a strong, loyal and technically gifted squad of players who want to play for you… just as Warburton has done. Rumours that Benham wanted to bring in a host of Spanish players against Warburton’s wishes are too fanciful to be true.
The main issue now is whether Benham’s courting of a new manager midway through a potentially historic season with everything going so well, will put the skids under everything.
It’s not just the actual pursuit. It’s more the fact that he expected it to stay under wraps that surprises me as much as the club’s child-like statement when the inevitable happened and it leaked.
The Talksport team could barely contain their guffaws as they read the statement. “Football is a village”, they sniggered. The Sky TV girl almost let a smirk slip.
When the club is being so brilliantly run, yesterday was a PR disaster where the board – assuming they sanction all media statements – made themselves look staggeringly amateurish.
But that is a minor detail. It’s the trust issue which bothers me most. It’s like going into work and your manager saying asking for a quick word.
“I know you’ve got your team producing brilliant work, real quality stuff, oh and the orders are breaking every record and the customers really are lapping it up, so much so we’re moving to new bigger offices thanks to your leadership. Oh by the way. We’ll be letting you go in a few months.”
Football is a ruthless business and normal rules might not apply, but Brentford is a family club whose employees care deeply about what they do and more importantly, how they do it.
Benham might argue it’s a results-driven business. I’d implore him to look at the Championship league table and ask how anyone could do better than Warburton and his team.
After clashing (repeatedly) with Ron Noades during the club’s dark days, I was revelling in the club’s calm, steady and studious progress, proudly telling anyone who’d listen what a fantastic club we were for doing things the right way.
Yesterday’s events made a mockery of everything I’d told them.
I heard many people leaving the ground last night saying the same thing… if we are to chase success at any cost, fill the team with foreign stars and treat people with disdain, then they won’t be coming back.
Matthew, I’m sorry if this sounds unambitious or lacking in desire, but this is NOT the Brentford way of doing things.
The fans – and I’m sure players – now need an unequivocal statement of intent from both Benham and Warburton.
The manager in his post match press conference looked visibly emotional as he insisted the focus should be on his players – players whose future under a new Spanish gaffer handed a poisoned chalice of following greatness, will no doubt be highly sought after by other clubs at the season’s end.
So I would say this to two men I thought were the Dream Team.
As an old editor once said to me ‘Jim, there’s nothing that can’t be sorted out over a bowl of Spag Bol… it’s a great leveller you see’.
So Matthew and Mark, get together to sort this mess out, allay supporters’ fears and get on with the business of getting us to the Premier League… the Brentford way.
And if that does happen, for God’s sake issue a decent statement this time.