Button It! – 11/8/14

charlton goalThe Brentford crowd has been remarkably supportive to their team over the past couple of seasons – and why shouldn’t they be given the quality of football they have witnessed, the high entertainment levels provided, and the overall success of the team?

After all, nineteen home wins and promotion is pretty good going in anyone’s language.

There are still murmurings from time to time when the ball is patiently played from side to side across the back four as we probe for openings and attempt to pull the opposition out of position.

But I think that is understandable as we have been used to a far less cerebral and patient and much more blood and thunder approach over the years and it is hard to change the habits of a lifetime.

For my part I have to continually blink and remind myself that this is really Brentford that I am watching and not some figment of my hopes and dreams.

Fred Callaghan’s 1982 team contained the best footballers I have seen at Brentford up until the present day.

It boasted the finest midfield I have ever seen at the club.

Terry Hurlock, Chris Kamara and Stan Bowles provided a perfect blend of competitiveness, hard tackling, aerial strength, non-stop running and of course, Stan’s ability to mesmerise and open up a defence with one pass.

The front three, which comprised the rejuvenated Tony Mahoney, the pace and finishing ability of Francis Joseph and “Gasping” Gary Roberts were far too good for the plodding, pedestrian defences we faced.

Unfortunately we were poor at the back, gave up too easily away from home and were finished off by Mahoney’s cruel injury.

Today’s squad will need to adapt to the higher level but I have every confidence that they will be able to do so.

There is, however one player who the supporters seem ambivalent about.

Goalkeeper David Button is still fairly inexperienced in the game.

At twenty five he is young for a goalkeeper, has only played just over one hundred and fifty first team matches and he was loaned out to ten clubs whilst still developing and learning the game at Spurs.

No slouch as a youngster, he was picked to play for England thirty one times from Under 16 to Under 20 level.

prestonHe did manage to replace ex-Bee Ben Hamer for a while at Charlton but was regarded as the back up there and Brentford is the first club that has really offered him the chance to cement his place and establish himself as the first choice keeper.

If you look at the figures, he played forty two league games last season, conceded only thirty seven goals and kept nineteen clean sheets.

He saved two penalties and contributed greatly to wins over Notts County, Preston, Leyton Orient, Walsall and Gillingham.

Of course he played behind an excellent defence but you don’t rack up those kind of numbers without having real ability.

A huge man, Button presents a massive barrier in goal and his shot stopping is beyond reproach.

He is agile and narrows the angle well.

He dropped a long range effort at the feet of Wilson against Coventry but it is difficult to remember any goal he conceded where he really should not have been beaten by the shot.

His reflexes are excellent and he moves his feet quickly for such a big man and his save from a close in header on Saturday was world class.

His hesitation against Notts County where he was caught in no mans land contributed to a late goal against, but he times his approaches towards on rushing forwards exceptionally well, stands tall, and made a crucial save before half time against Charlton on Saturday when a striker was clean through.

He can be tentative on crosses and does not impose himself enough and often punches when the opportunity is there to catch the ball but this comes with experience.

He really should not have been beaten to the ball from a near post corner for Charlton’s goal.

He was hesitant and slow to react. He gave a clear shout of “keeper” but didn’t get there first as he should have done. More work is needed to improve this vital part of his game.

What really divides the fans is his distribution.

The Brentford way is to build up from the back with patient passes and Button is key to that, kicking or throwing the ball short to his back four or Douglas at every opportunity.

It can go wrong, as it did so disastrously at Stevenage and Swindon last season and he will learn from those mistakes.

When he is forced to kick by opponents closing us down he is remarkably consistent, pinging passes fify to one hundred yards with almost unerring accuracy and composure.

Again, some fans find this approach hard to get used to and Button is the fall guy for their anger and concern.

He also hasn’t been forgiven for not being Simon Moore, the immensely popular and gifted keeper who Button replaced when Moore left for Cardiff  last season.

That isn’t his fault and as much as I rated Simon, I believe that David offers us more in terms of his shot stopping ability, particularly from long range where Simon was vulnerable and in his distribution.

Simon on the other hand dealt with crosses far better than David.

We are fortunate to have a goalkeeper in Button whose strengths far outweigh his weaknesses.

Richard Lee has also been quick to acknowledge just how talented David is and that is more than just the Goalkeepers’ Union talking.

Mistakes by goalkeepers are always magnified and are obvious to the eye, and he makes very few.

He will get even better as he gets used to weekly first team football and here is where I feel the key to his progress and development lies.

A couple of years ago he described himself as a “journeyman” given that he was always being sent out for short loan spells and had never been given his chance to put down roots or establish himself at any club.

That was a really telling comment, and I suspect that he is both a late developer and also lacks some confidence in his own ability, given his background and how he has been moved from pillar to post.

Finally he has found a club where he can settle and that believes in, and has put its absolute faith in him.

He will respond accordingly, and over the next couple of years I am certain that he will become even better and demonstrate just how good he is.

So my message for the doubters is get behind him and please button it!


3 thoughts on “Button It! – 11/8/14

  1. I have always rated him he is still relatively young for a keeper and as you say not that many first team games in the bag.Was at fault for their goal Saturday but he pulled off 3 saves that more than made up for it.Moore was never faultless and I believe Button is as good now and will be a better keeper.


  2. Good article Grenville and hope that Button can cut out the occasional howler and become a Bees legend. His distribution is excellent and he has all the physical attributes to be a top keeper but has to keep his concentration especially when he’s playing well as tends to be when he switches off.


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