Outgoing Brentford manager Mark Warburton has admitted a feeling of frustration that he will not get to finish the work he has started at the Championship club.
It was announced in February that Warburton would leave the club at the end of the season, despite leading them into the play-offs this year, as the Bees look to implement a new structure.
Rasmus Ankersen and Phil Giles have been appointed as co-directors of football at the club and will be responsible for the recruitment of players and staff and for appointing a new head coach after Warburton leaves at the end of the month.
Warburton told The Morning View that while he respects the board’s decision to implement a new statistical modelling approach to transfers and recruitment, he did feel a sense of frustration that he won’t be in charge to try and spearhead the club’s push for promotion to the Premier League.
He said: “Of course there is emotion, but I think frustration is the key one for me because, as I said, a lot of work has gone into the last four and half years and we’re in a good place right now and I’m sure the club will move forward, so that’s the overriding emotion for me that I can’t be involved in that.
“It came out the statement in early February, I believe, the actual announcement came out just after the Watford game and it was disappointing for it to come out in that manner but it happened and that’s the media. But from that point on we thought, do we throw down tools or do we put our heads down here and maximise a fantastic opportunity that the players themselves have created?
“There was a number of reasons – the statement is very clear and it said the route the club wants to take, there are certain differences in philosophies and even myself and (Brentford’s outgoing sporting director) Frank McParland couldn’t get round to agreeing to all of those and, as I said, we respect it.
“The club is in good hands, the investment has been significant and the club is going down a different route now. We wish it well, of course we do. But you have to be comfortable in your own role and what you’re doing and if you’re not I’d rather speak sooner than later.
“It is frustrating, anyone would agree that it is frustrating. Personally, being there four-and-a-half years, Davie (Weir) and Frank coming in likewise, there is still much work to do and it is a talented young squad that can keep going forward from here.
“But I keep coming back to that word respect; the board have made a decision and I respect the people. Matthew (Benham) the owner has put in that level of money, he’s a genuine Brentford fan and he only wants what is best for the club and we are not part of it.”
Ankersen is the chairman of Danish league leaders FC Midtyjlland and will share duties with Giles, who is head of quantitative sports research at Smartodds, a company owned by the Brentford chairman.
They will oversee a new model of recruitment based on statistical modelling but Warburton believes finding a balance is key.
He said: “It’s all about balance. I think they may go towards the mathematical modelling as it said in the statement but I think it is always a balance of traditional scouting methods and the data.
“And the data going forward will continue to get better and better from all sorts across the whole of football and we have to respect it, the game is going that way, there’s no doubt about that.”
The outgoing manager conceded he wasn’t sure how two directors of football would work with a head coach but said players should view the new structure as an opportunity to impress.
He said: “I don’t know; it’s a new set up for next season and I’m not privy to that and it’s not really right for me to comment. It’s the direction the club is taking, it is interesting, there are some very clever people there, I’m sure, but it’s not really for me to comment on that one.
“If you worry about things and have pre-conceived ideas you are putting yourself in a weak position. Any player and staff member should be looking at this as a blank canvas, there’s a new coach coming in, a new structure – there is a blank canvas so go and impress. Enjoy your summer but come back fit and well and try to impress the new coach, whomever it may be, and see how good an impression you can create.”
Warburton is still technically manager at Griffin Park until the end of the month and said he looked back at his time at the club very positively, with his highlight being able to watch the self-belief of his group of players grow.
He wished Brentford well going forward but refused to completely rule out a return to the club in the future.
He added: “Very positive, many highs, the squad performed extremely well throughout a long and difficult campaign and there is a lot of pride in how they performed.
“Seeing a squad of players get the self-belief to realise they are good enough at that level and they can actually impact that level. So my biggest high was seeing a group of players – many of them very young – develop very quickly at a tough Championship level and really perform consistently well throughout the season.
“You never say never in football. It’s a strange game, everyone keeps telling me that and I’m learning that very quickly. You never say never but certainly at the moment there is a different direction and I wish the club well.”
Watch Middlesbrough play Norwich in the Championship Play-off Final on Monday, May 25, live on Sky Sports 1 from 3pm.