Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock looked visibly wracked as he described the “worst week” of his long managerial career following the disappearance of Emiliano Sala.
Sala signed for Cardiff in a record deal but has been missing since his private plane went down somewhere over the Channel last Monday.
The official search was called off after three days but a private search began on Saturday, funded by donations made by several high-profile footballers and members of the public alike. Still, nothing has been found of the plane or its two passengers: Sala and his pilot, David Ibbotson.
With everything still in limbo, Warnock faced the press on Monday afternoon ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League trip to Arsenal.
Understandably, the 70-year-old was a little wobbly as he spoke of the effect the Sala ordeal has had on him personally, as well as his players.
I’ve been in football management now for 40 years and it’s by far the most difficult week in my career by an absolute mile.
It’s traumatic. Even now, I can’t get my head around the situation. It’s such a difficult time.
I keep looking at my own children and trying to think what I would be doing now.
Asked if he’s considered his own future in football since the tragedy began to unfurl, Warnock replied:
I think probably 24 hours a day in the last week, yeah. It would be true to say, even as I sit here now.
Because there’s more important things, isn’t there? It takes something like that to make you realise. And I have to say when I switched the phone off from all you guys on Saturday and I was with (my wife) Sharon in a lovely hotel in a place called Narberth, it was probably the best day I’d had for years in my own mind, because of the circumstances. And I think I needed that really.
But I realise I have a job to do here, and it was always a massive job. It’s doubly massive now, and that’s when you’ve got to show your leadership and show the lads you’re in charge of that we’ve got another miracle to do here.
I know I look shattered. I am tired. I know my age is not helping me. But I don’t think it’s down to my age. It almost feels cruel to me that everything that happened, the Leicester thing (helicopter crash) was such a tragedy, then this on top of that.
You think once in a lifetime is enough. But to have two in a few short weeks… it does take it out of you, makes you look at yourself, why you are in the game.
So many things crop up in your mind really.
Warnock then admitted that he and several of the Cardiff players had asked for and received psychological support over the past few days:
I sought help, I think you’ve got to do so, under the circumstances really. Who motivates the motivator? It is one of those things, you are the leader of the pack.
You have to show leadership in the right areas. I think I am ok, when I am in the public eye and when I am with the players
My biggest problem is when I am on my own or at home with Sharon and little things trigger things. It is amazing what keeps cropping up. You don’t expect things to crop up as they have done.
It’s clear that the poor guy, as well as everybody involved in the Sala trauma, is being put through the ringer. Warnock is obviously struggling to keep a lid on his emotions in the BBC Sport’s video of the press conference.
You wouldn’t blame Warnock for walking away mid-season for the good of his own health, but he obviously feels a strong sense of duty to remain the figurehead as the club struggle through together.
Still, come what may, it sounds like a retirement may well be forthcoming at the end of the season.
Honestly, after the past few months, who could begrudge him in the slightest?