Has anybody here seen Betinho?
The Brentford brains trust needed to take speedy action as soon as Scott Hogan suffered his horrific season-ending injury at Rotherham.
Given that there were only a couple of days remaining before the end of the transfer window, there was really no time to waste, and they are to be applauded for getting a transfer over the line so speedily.
Goals win matches, so inevitably good strikers are notoriously difficult and expensive to capture, particularly for a club like Brentford who have languished for years in the nether regions of the game, and are only now building a justified reputation as a progressive, ambitious club, and one becoming a far more attractive proposition to potential signings.
Over the years we have generally had to settle for strikers who were a little shop soiled, who had a few extra miles on the clock, who were perhaps in their golden years, or trying to make their way back from injury, as well as some real gambles from the lower reaches of the game.
Ian Benjamin, Steve Kabba, Carl Cort or Matthew Metcalf anyone?
In the interests of fairness I will also put forward the names of Clayton Donaldson and DJ Campbell.
Purely on the law of averages we had to get it right occasionally!
Not since Nicky Forster arrived in 1994 had we managed to bring in a real prospect who was also coveted by many other clubs far higher up the food chain.
Scott Hogan and Andre Gray had both broken the mould as they were promising and much sought after youngsters who had shown immense promise at a lower level and were keen to take the chance we offered them to prove that they could thrive in the Championship.
As for our other new striker, Nick Proschwitz, he was a different kettle of fish, as his career had stalled at Hull City and he was simply looking for an opportunity to re-establish himself and demonstrate that he had what it takes.
The loan signing of Betinho came totally out of the blue and not been anticipated by anybody.
Like his fellow countryman and former Brentford loanee, Joao Teixeira, he had come to Mark Warburton’s attention during the Next Gen series where he had apparently scored for fun.
At twenty-one he had a highly impressive goal scoring record for both his club, Sporting Lisbon, at youth and B Level, as well as for the Portugese international teams at all age levels, up to and including the Under 21 team.
And not just any old goals, a trawl of YouTube revealed eye catching strikes of all shapes and sizes.
You name it, he could do it – volleys, overhead kicks and diving headers alike.
From the sparse evidence gathered, Betinho appeared to be a classic goal poacher, someone who came alive in the penalty area.
After the recent arrival of Jota, signing another foreign player known only by a nickname seemed to be yet more evidence that Brentford were joining the big time!
Like every other Bees fan I was salivating at the prospect of watching Betinho play, and felt that he would more than likely provide the goals that we needed to help cement our position in the Championship.
The scene was set for him to take us all by storm, and after the inevitable delay required for his international clearance to come through, we eagerly waited for him to make an immediate impact.
And that really and frustratingly is where the story currently remains.
Betinho made his debut as a late substitute in a losing cause against Norwich City, played for the final thirteen minutes, created an opportunity that was blazed over the bar by his fellow substitute Nick Proschwitz and has never been seen again.
Those few sparse minutes represent the sum total to date of his appearances for the club at first team level.
He has sat on the bench ever since, like a wallflower awaiting an invitation to dance, until last Saturday at Bolton, when he wasn’t even named in the eighteen man squad.
What is more galling and mysterious is that our goals have largely dried up and no forward has scored for us since Betinho became eligible to play.
Since his arrival our entire ration of goals have been provided either by our midfielders or full back Alan McCormack.
Andre Gray has been worked to the bone and ploughed a lone furrow up front without scoring since the Brighton match early in September, and he has invariably been replaced late in every game by Nick Proschwitz who has also not troubled the scorers, and in all honesty, rarely looked like doing so.
There have been several times recently, like in the away game at Watford, when we desperately needed a goal, the game had become open and totally end to end and it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Betinho to get his opportunity.
He has never received the call and when youngster Montell Moore was also named as a substitute last week we all wondered if he might get on before our foreign import.
In the end neither was required.
So the burning question remains unanswered – why has he not been given any further opportunities to play?
I have given the matter a lot of thought and I now firmly believe that we supporters should recognise and acknowledge that our initial expectations were both ridiculous and totally unfair on a young boy leaving his country for the first time to play in a totally strange, unknown and alien environment.
When examining his playing record in more detail, it also becomes evident that he had barely played a first team game at the top level in Portugal and, for all his promise and potential, was totally inexperienced.
How could he be expected to come into such a competitive and tough environment as the Championship and contribute from day one?
How hard must it be for somebody of his age to move away from home and have to deal with the problems of climate, diet, language, homesickness and loneliness as well as having to adapt to a totally different style of play.
However much the club, Player Liaison Officer, Peter Gilham, and indeed his new Iberian colleagues such as Jota, Jon Toral and Marcos Tebar have tried to help him settle down, it must be a daunting and indeed difficult prospect for him to become acclimatised, without even taking into account the additional problems of fitting in with his new team mates on the field too.
And that is where I suspect the explanation to this enigma lies.
Brentford have adopted a new 4-1-4-1 playing system this season which relies upon fast midfield runners to get forward in support of a lone striker who is supposed to work tirelessly both in and out of the penalty area, to show and make space for himself, run the channels, hold the ball up until his colleagues arrive, win the ball in the air whenever keeper, David Button, is forced to kick the ball long, press the opposition when they are in possession and, of course, finish clinically whenever a chance does come along.
I am exhausted simply typing that out and can only imagine how tough an ask and how demanding this role must be for any player, let alone such a young and inexperienced one who has probably never been asked to perform in a similar manner before.
Andre Gray has taken up the mantle willingly and without complaint, and he has shown enormous levels of energy, skill and commitment, but he is now looking drained and badly in need of a break.
I suspect that Betinho is used to a totally different style of play back home, one that is far slower and less frenetic, where his team dominates possession and he plays off another striker who does a lot of the donkey work for him.
He is probably used to playing off the shoulder of the last defender and concentrating his energy simply on taking his chances as they are presented to him.
With Brentford he will probably be shattered from all the required hard work and running before he even gets a sniff at goal.
He has therefore had a lot to cope with and in retrospct we should have looked at the small print before we all got so excited at his arrival.
Betinho did play in a Development Squad match last month and scored a typically well taken goal against Sheffield Wednesday, and he is also expected to play tonight at Crystal Palace.
Ideally Betinho will speak well of the treatment and help he has received since his arrival, and how the Brentford coaches and support team have improved his game, and his will be merely the first in a series of future loan deals between Brentford and Sporting Lisbon.
That is all very well but our goalscoring problem and lack of available bodies up front still remains, and there has been much talk and speculation of a far more experienced striker, Sunderland’s Danny Graham, arriving imminently on a loan deal.
Hopefully that is a story that has legs and, if so, I will be able to comment upon it later on this week.
As for Betinho, for all his promise it would appear that he is perhaps a player for tomorrow rather than today.
The season is still young and I hope that his time will come at Griffin Park, but the need still remains for immediate help up front, assistance that I believe will have to come from elsewhere.