By Francis Kelly
IN A playing career that stretched across 22 seasons, David Weir learnt numerous footballing lessons – but it’s the teachings of Brentford boss Mark Warburton that the Bees’ assistant manager finds most valuable.
Previously a City trader, Warburton’s approach is paying dividends at the west London club as they continue to impress in the Championship, and Weir believes the unique outlook is fundamental to their success.
“It’s fascinating seeing how Mark works and the different way he does things,” says Weir, the 44year-old former Hearts, Everton, Rangers and Scotland defender.
“He talks in his business terms and can relate football to it, and it is really relevant. When you are working in football it can wrap you up. It’s useful to have a different perspective.
“He’s always in the office at 6am every morning, he’s used to it from working in the City. It’s only a small thing, but I don’t think many managers work like that.”
High-flying Brentford have surprised many this season, with their attacking brand of football propelling them up the division upon their return to the Championship.
And Weir is adamant they can build on their early achievements, as the club looks set to record their highest league finish in over 60 years.
“We don’t want to be a 20game wonder or a first-half-of the-season success story. We want to be stable and successful,” says Weir.
“We have had a good start and the boys have taken confidence from that. Surviving in the league was always the minimum. That’s success to a certain degree.
“But we look short term with the players and group games, so we can set shorter-term targets.
“It’s worked so far but that doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Mark and I are constantly trying to be better and thinking how can we make improvements.”
Brought into the coaching setup in December 2013 after a short-lived managerial debut at Sheffield United, Weir helped Brentford to League One promotion at the first opportunity.
Having missed out on the automatic positions the preceding season, before losing in the playoffs, there were huge expectations on the new management team to fulfil.
But the former Scotland international admits the possibility of getting Brentford up is what initially persuaded him to join.
“There was a chance of getting promoted out of League One, that was a big draw,” added Weir. “It was a big step up for the club and the challenge interested me. They’d got close before but the league was really competitive.
“I didn’t know Mark particularly well, but every role in football is a risk, that’s the reality of it. Potentially it could’ve been over in a couple of months.”
Now in the running for a Premier League spot, the Bees are turning to various methods to find the minute details that may aid their race to the top.
This includes owner Matthew Benham and his company, Smartodds, whose vast collection of football data might just give them the edge required.
“Matthew is very ambitious,” says Weir. “He’s got experience in other walks of life and he comes from a different angle, which is great for us. His ratings help us. Any knowledge and experience we try and utilise – we’d be fools if we didn’t.”