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Brentford’s Mark Warburton must be the only football manager who feels the tension before a match is like waiting for the release of the US trade figures.

We are in his small office at the League One club’s Osterley training ground, a world removed from RBS’s Bishopsgate dealing room where, almost a decade ago, Warburton was a currency trader. The 51-year-old tells me: “The trade figures would come out once a month. As we waited, you could cut the tension with a knife. Once they were announced, it was bedlam. That’s just the environment on the touchline in the build-up to a match. For me, every time we have a game, it’s trade figures day.

“Managing a football team is no different to managing a dealing team of 12 guys. I’ve said to the players they could all be traders. Not all of them in terms of dealing with numbers but they’re competitive animals.

“The City is filled with competitive animals. The guys here would have revelled in the environment. I’ve taken the boys into the dealing room to show them the pressure those guys and women work under every day for longer hours and greater risk. In the City, we relied on teamwork and communication, same as here. If you didn’t produce, you paid the price. In the dealing room, you can make a mistake which leads to a loss of $50million. In football, it costs you a goal and, with it, promotion.”

Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Swindon dented Brentford’s promotion hopes but they are still seven points clear of third-placed Leyton Orient with four games remaining.

Last season, Brentford missed out on automatic promotion on the final day after a 1-0 defeat to Doncaster when they conceded an injury time goal, having missed a penalty a minute earlier, and they then lost in the Play-off Final.

Given the situation, many managers would ban all talk of promotion. But Warburton says: “I totally disagree. You should mention promotion every day. It does not worry the lads. They learned from last year. The pain they suffered has been a great learning curve. They’ve moved on from last year and want to talk about the targets. Our target, in a non-arrogant way, is to win four out of four, to secure promotion. The second target is to win the League.”

Warburton set these goals when he took over last December with the team in fourth. He had been sporting director for two years, which he says “helped enormously” when he stepped into the role after Uwe Rosler left to manage Wigan.

“I was already a familiar face at the training ground and knew the players intimately. I had signed most of them and dealt with their agents.

Competitive spirit: Alan McCormack celebrates with team-mates after the Brentford’s victory against Crawley Town“I told the players, ‘We can get promotion’. I believe absolutely in the squad. So I’m delighted by what we have done but not surprised.”

When Warburton moved jobs his post was filled by former Liverpool Academy chief Frank McParland and the Brentford manager believes the sporting director model will become the norm in English football. “I never doubted it can work. Lots of managers are very wary because they think that guy will be picking the team. That is far from the role of the sporting director. When I was doing that job with Uwe, I said to him, ‘You pick the team always and have the final say on players but I’ll tell you what I think.’ So I did. We would row every other day but we never fell out.

“I have a great relationship with Frank. He worked with Brendan Rodgers and I know Brendan well.”

That comes from their time together at Watford, where Warburton was head of the Academy when Rodgers was appointed manager in 2008. “It was difficult for Brendan as the club were in severe financial difficulties.”

Rodgers turned down Tottenham for Liverpool in 2012 and Warburton, a Spurs supporter, says: “He made a fantastic decision and I’m not surprised how he has done because you’re dealing with world-class players. An individual can go to a club and have the best intentions but you need the players. Brendan was excellent to work with, always seeking to learn more. Since I got this job, he’s sent me some nice texts.”

This text exchange will increase if both men fulfil their ambitions this season. For the long term, Warburton hopes Brentford will one day play Liverpool in a League game. “Brentford are capable of being in the lower parts of the Premier League. Are they going to beat Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal? Of course not. But look at Southampton, at Reading, teams of that stature and we could achieve our own niche with the new stadium.”

That 20,000-seater stadium, just over Kew Bridge, is due to be completed in two-and-a-half years. “Our aim is to fill that stadium when the first game is played,” says Warburton.

New home: Brentford’s stadium will be completed in 2016

That will not be easy in a crowded west London environment dominated by Chelsea, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers but he says: “If you go to Chelsea, it is £75 a ticket. A couple of drinks and a bite to eat and you’ve spent £200. Our long-term goal is to play the type of attractive, enjoyable football that attracts a new fan base, at a price that is affordable.”

Warburton looks back with satisfaction on his bold move to switch careers 10 years ago. “I realised I had to leave when, one day, a big currency trade came in. For the previous 20 years, I would have killed for such a trade. Yet I was sitting there working out a passing drill for the Under-13s on the back of a piece of paper. I knew then that I wasn’t being fair to myself, to my employer.

“I gave myself 10 years. If, by 2014, I hadn’t achieved anything in football, I thought I could go back to the City.”

      

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