Bircham’s superb exit leaves Waterford feeling the Blues ahead of play-offs

The August 5 announcement that Marc Bircham had signed a new two-and-a-half-year contract with Waterford presented a picture of stability at a club seeking to emerge from a period of protracted crisis

It turned out to be misleading.

Bircham had arrived three months earlier as the fifth Blues boss in the space of a year, the move of former QPR and Millwall player followed by confirmation that England businessman Richard Forrest had repossessed full ownership of the club from Lee Power.

“Marc has been a breath of fresh air around the club,” said Forrest, “On and off the pitch we are looking to build the club and move us in the right direction.”

It reads like ancient history after an extraordinary chain of events that led to Bircham’s sacking yesterday, just three days away from Friday’s promotion / relegation game with UCD which could to be described as the club’s most important game in a decade.

Players and fans alike remained frustrated and bewildered by the dramatic escalation of tensions that allegedly occurred behind the scenes.

The shared feeling is that any issues should have been parked and then resolved once the UCD game is over. Instead, they walk in without a manager who received praise for lifting the club from the back and bringing them to a safe distance before falling right at the end.

Bircham used social media to connect with fans and although some rivals believe this Blues diet is doing too much on Twitter, they didn’t expect the final act of his stay to be played out on the media with a message from the manager that crashes early in the morning. the news that he had been suspended for a week by Forrest – and would therefore miss the play-off – followed by the club’s prompt announcement of a contract termination.

Mystery surrounds the exact reasons for its release, but there are also digital footprints to follow there. A deleted tweet from Waterford’s Academy in response to the first team having only two substitutes on the pitch for Friday’s league game with St Patrick’s Athletic is relevant here.

Bircham complained that underage players weren’t available to fill the bench. The deleted message denies that there was communication from the first team on the subject. There appears to be a significant “he said, she said” element around this flashpoint, but it reflected the general relationship between the senior and minor departments.

Separately, St Patrick’s Athletic was briefed on fears of a Covid case in the Waterford camp on Saturday which was later confirmed to be positive, but this is a side issue to the personality-focused dramas even though it does. further complicates preparations for the play-offs.

A statement from Forrest said he was cornered without shedding light on the content of the text discussions. Bircham declined to speak beyond a brief local radio interview at the time, but he liked and retweeted posts criticizing his former employers and feels he did not gain support from the hierarchy when it did. mattered.

The big picture is that a Blues team, including Forrest’s son George – who has featured sparingly in recent months – must come together for a game with seismic implications. Once again, the direction of the club is unclear.

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