Under The Radar? – 11/11/14

gaIt’s happened, the cat is finally out of the bag.

Last night on Sky Sports FL72 Review Show, presenter George Gavin uttered these fateful words:

You see, as a neutral it would be great to see Bournemouth and Brentford in the Premier League.

That would sort them out at the top level, wouldn’t it?

George, go and rinse your mouth out with cold water, we really do not want to hear such spurious nonsense spouted by anybody, least of all a respected soccer pundit like yourself.

Brentford have advanced stealthily, sneaking under the radar as their rise to the top six of the Championship table has, up to now, gone practically unnoticed and unremarked upon.

Managers of teams defeated by us have dismissed the result as a mere aberration and have barely deigned to remark upon our quality, or indeed, in some cases, mention us at all.

Stuart Pearce and Sammy Hyypia, I am particularly thinking about the pair of you and how mean spirited, grudging and even condescending your meagre comments were about the mighty Bees.

peUp until last weekend we were seen as no more than a team buoyed by the impetus of promotion last season, who had simply managed to maintain its progress and hold its own in the Championship.

Three wins in a week, over tough and established Championship teams in Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Millwall have changed perceptions and finally seen people sit up and take notice and, not before time, start to analyse exactly what is happening behind the scenes at Griffin Park and why it is working so well.

Then came Millwall manager Ian Holloway’s heartfelt, eloquent and insightful post match tribute to the Bees:

I must congratulates Mark, his staff and Brentford for the way they have metamorphosed into a wonderful football establishment.

We have got a long way to catch up with the knowledge, understanding and the group that he has developed there.

Fair play to them, I knew how good they were by watching them.

He’s (Warburton) about three or four years ahead of me in what he wants to do, and I’m giving the credit to Mark because he must have been doing a job above their last manager, setting things up, and their players know exactly how to close, who to close, when to close.

They lost their best player in (Jonathan) Douglas, but I knew they were going to pick our pockets.

holllowayEverybody should start looking at what a fantastic job they’re doing.

I’m a little jealous because their players know how to press and when to press.

They’ve lost one of their best organisers and they can still do that.

They’re ahead of us. Well done to them, and they aren’t little old Brentford any more.

It’s their structure.

They’ve invested in the academy and put that way of playing into their players.

They have put a way of playing in place that the lads know, with or without the ball.

I guarantee they are doing it from the academy all the way up.

Yet every one of their players knew exactly what they were doing and got their distances right, apart from the time we gained a bit of the ascendancy and shocked them and scored two.

What their right centre back did, and the centre midfielder – I know that’s a higher level than I’m used to and as high a level as I’ve come up against.

Their bloke (Warburton) has had five years.

I think their manager deserves a medal the size of a coal bunker lid.

He was putting in place this structure before Rosler went.

It was a fantastic appointment by their owner.

There’s a lot of brains about what Brentford are doing.

That’s what I think, and the stats will show you.

 You’ve got to have a structure to play to and a way of doing it, and they’re as good as anybody.

Their downfall will be whether they believe that.

Now that is praise indeed from a wily and experienced football manager, an ex-Bee too, who is therefore well aware of how our club has traditionally been run, on a shoestring and a wing and a prayer, and fully recognises just how far we have come in so short a space of time.

What Holloway is saying comes as no surprise to every Brentford supporter who has seen the amazing transformation over the past year, since the appointment of Mark Warburton, but the Millwall manager is the first opponent who has gone public and acknowledged that he fully understands what is going on at our club

Brentford’s first half performance totally silenced the home fans, who are normally so raucous in their support of the Lions and it was gratifying to read this assessment of us from a Millwall supporter:

It’s not often that the opposition deserves the win against us by outplaying us, but Brentford did.

The best side I’ve seen at The Den for a long, long time.

That is how I want my team to play football.

Closing down at every opportunity, slick passing, a pacey front-line and just all round brilliance.

And with Tony Craig at the back, you’re always going to get 100% from your players.

Fair play, you should be proud of that team.

A fulsome tribute indeed and further evidence that the word is spreading.

For my part, whilst I would prefer that our future opponents continue to underestimate us, our results, progress and style of football means that situation will undoubtedly change.

Assuming we continue to do well, it is inevitable that we will gain more recognition and media attention, something that has rarely happened to us in the past.

Should that situation arise, I think we can cope with the prominence and media spotlight as our players are well led, intelligent and grounded individuals who will not let the attention go to their heads.

Nor will they be allowed to do so.

Our supporters are natural born pessimists, hardened and made cynical by years of underachievement and false dawns, and we are to some degree finding today’s situation hard to take in and assimilate and we are also terrified of angering the Gods and tempting fate.

Andre’s comments are typical of so many of our fans:

Nine points last week when we could easily have ended up with none was fantastic, but there’s still a long way to go and a lot can happen between now and the end of the season.

My first reaction on seeing the table on Saturday night was ‘hell, we’re sixth’.

My second was to work out that we only needed about another twenty-three points from twenty-nine games to be safe.

So I’m not getting ahead of myself.

But there’s an elephant in the room.

No one wants to mention the P word, but it’s not beyond the bounds of possibilty that we may actually work our way into a play-off spot.

It’s a close race and there’s no dominant team.

If we did, why not eighth time lucky?

It’s a lottery after all, and surely we’re well overdue to win one.

Was I dreaming or did Holloway tip us as an outside bet for promotion?

I hope no one is listening to him, because the longer we stay under the radar….

Richard Poole put it even more succinctly:

This win at Millwall says even more for me than the victories against Derby or Forest.

Going to places likes this and actually winning shows just how much potential the Bees have, and is a really good pointer for the future.

And, yes, in the back of our mind we are all thinking the same, but mum’s the word!

The times they are a-changing, Brentford are on the rise and the world is finally on the verge on catching up with the fact!


5 thoughts on “Under The Radar? – 11/11/14

  1. Another very interesting read. Am still finding it all hard to believe after so many years of disappointments, interspersed with short lived triumphs. Sounds crazy, I know, but I am actually worrying now about the possibility of being promoted before we get to Lionel Road! But as a Bees’ pessimist, my next thought is that we have still have a long way to go before we can be sure of staying up………


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