Journalist, Jim Levack, gives his view on today’s Times story and how the club should react.
There are times as a press officer when you actually start to hate the media. When I was Head of News at West Midlands Police I found them to be variously arrogant, rude, opinionated and even spiteful.
As a journalist myself I was often accused of being a poacher turned gamekeeper, but one thing my stint on the dark side did do was teach me a lot about the press in this country.
They are, en masse, questioning, persistent and dogged… all of the things you need in a democratic society where freedom of speech is king. But occasionally they cross the line… First rule of journalism is to get a comment from the affected party, a right that doesn’t appear to have been afforded to Chris Wickham and his team today.
At first sight the story looks like utter bilge, possibly something dreamed up by the Vicarage Road mafia to destabilise us ahead of tonight’s clash and run in.
But in that last sentence you can see how easy it is to write something without foundation and get away with it.
The damage, though, is done as soon as the seed is planted however strenuous Chris’s rebuttals might be throughout today.
Knowing Matthew Benham as we all do, the suggestion that arguably this season’s Manager of the Year – in all four divisions – could be sacked is laughable.
If, as the story claims, our benefactor is lining up a foreign coach for the next phase then the time for that will come naturally as part of the club’s gradual evolution.
Communications-wise today’s story presents Brentford with a dilemma. Do they acknowledge it and smash it into the distance or stay silent.
The only problem with the latter is that silence is tantamount to confirmation for the press pack feeding frenzy.
Best route, in my opinion, would be to have Matthew Benham making a clear public declaration about how the link with this mysterious coach came about.
Failure to do so will fan the embers of a story that surely has no foundation in fact.
There almost certainly is smoke to this the fire – there often is – but my guess is that it’s the faintest trail from a casual chat Benham once had with a bloke in a bar who knew a bloke who did quite well guiding a side from who mentioned it to a journo mate… you know the score.
To some journalists two and two makes four in their head and they will adamantly believe everything adds up, vehemently refusing to let logic rule.
On the other hand if the story is true then it’s an unwelcome and staggering return to the dark days of uncertainty that once constantly shrouded our club.
The best leaders are often justified in changing things and in the management book a good time to do that is when things are going well, but the timing of this is incredible.
Brentford’s success this season has been built around a manager who treats his players like adults, who clearly has their respect and is, frankly, running Mr Curtis close for the accolade of the best ever Griffin Park boss.
He is intelligent, brave, tactically savvy but also makes the gameplan easily accessible for everyone who drops into his system.
Giving notice to sack him now would be suicidal and risks creating a huge rift between Benham and the fans who adore the Bread Man.
The best way for Brentford to handle this is to go out and do their talking on the pitch tonight, after Matthew Benham has done his.