More Haste Less Speed – 3/2/15

The Transfer Window shut late last night and there have been several murmurings on social media and the message boards that Brentford did not do enough and failed to address their major problems.

In order to decide where the truth lies let’s first try and put things into context. Here we are on the third of February, basking in the warm glow of achievement with Brentford currently sitting proudly in fifth place in the Championship, well in contention for a playoff place or even automatic promotion to the Premier League. How incredible an achievement is that when the most optimistic of supporters would have been more than happy with a season of consolidation? As it is we have totally exceeded all expectations and are way ahead of the club’s own ambitious plans for future progress. Time is truly on our side.

In my opinion we have to reconcile two opposing points of view: firstly, More haste, less speed and then Carpe Diem. The club has planned for structured growth and whilst the Premier League is the ultimate goal, I am sure that nobody involved at Brentford even considered that becoming a serious possibility before the move to Lionel Road and our possessing the facilities appropriate enough for us to cope with the jump in status and capitalise upon the revenue opportunities provided by the Premier League.

I will also remind you that only a year or so ago the stated hope of most Brentford fans was that we would be in the Championship rather than Division One when we moved to our new stadium, and now we are talking about the Premier League! How far have we come in so short a period of time!

The question is whether we should perhaps mortgage our future by gambling on expensive new acquisitions in the hope of going up this season or if instead we should take a more patient and measured approach? Opportunities need to be capitalised upon and the fact that this season has gone so swimmingly is no guarantee that next year will be even better. It should be, given the sound foundations put in place, but you never know what the future has in store, as fate has a nasty habit of rearing its ugly head.

We all expected promotion last season as a natural progression after the Doncaster and Yeovil disappointments in 2013, and on the face of it we achieved this feat extremely comfortably with a triumphant procession to the Championship, and yet there was a tipping point, after the defeat at Stevenage in October, when we were floundering in mid table with confidence at a low ebb and disaffection within the ranks, and without the now famous post match discussion which totally turned our season around, who knows where we might have finished?

Let’s now look dispassionately at what Brentford actually achieved in the January transfer window. For the glass half-empty brigade we did not lose any of our star assets. Who knows if there were any serious approaches for the likes of Alan Judge, Jota, Moses Odebayo and Andre Gray but all of them remain with us for the remainder of the campaign and any predators have been thwarted.

We also brought in four new players. Josh Laurent, a highly promising young midfielder arrived from our local rivals QPR and it has been highly amusing to eavesdrop on all the internal squabbling that his departure caused at Loftus Road where the club appears to be in total disarray. From first sight he is a typical Brentford player, comfortable on the ball, fast, strong and eager to prove himself. Chris Long has also arrived on loan from Everton, where he is highly regarded, to boost our attacking options. Of course he is young and untried but he is a raw talent who impressed in his initial outing at Norwich when he helped us over the line in his late cameo appearance.

Lewis Macleod and Jack O’Connell are a totally different kettle of fish. Two young, promising players, bursting with ability and potential and yet we have managed to spirit them away from their previous clubs, taking advantage of their desperate financial straits. It has always been the case going back over the years that Brentford were robbed of their best prospects for derisory fees, now the boot is firmly on the other foot – and doesn’t it feel good!

jack o connell web.jpg-pwrt2Lewis is slowly recovering from a niggling hamstring injury and will shortly be back in action and I believe that he will make a significant impact throughout the remainder of the season. Generally acknowledged to be one of the most promising players in Scotland and a member of the full international squad, his potential is frightening. The supporters at Rangers have still not really got over his departure to a supposed minnow like Brentford.

Yesterday twenty year-old Jack O’Connell arrived from Blackburn for a bargain fee. Jack who, was the question on the lips of most Brentford supporters but fans of Blackburn Rovers and Rochdale, where he has had two highly successful loan spells, are well aware of his identity and ability. Here are some of the comments about him on the Blackburn message boards:

He’s got a quality left foot, he’s big & strong with pace.

He’s very good in the air and is head and shoulders above both centre halves we have at the moment. He can actually pass a ball.

Our best defensive prospect in years,

The best prospect we have had since Phil Jones

This lad is quality 

This one might come back to haunt us

Sky Sports also recently highlighted O’Connell as one of the most promising young players in the country and produced the following scouting report on him:

Jack O’Connell has been hugely impressive for Rochdale this season. Liverpool-born O’Connell is an unusual case, given that as a youngster he almost slipped through the net, and was not picked up by any club until he was 18 when he joined Blackburn. A year after signing, he was handed his first professional deal and months later he was making his league debut, but with Rotherham United, who he joined on a three-month loan. 

By this point O’Connell’s displays for Blackburn’s second string had also attracted attention from England’s coaching team, and he was capped by the Under-18s. After returning from his spell with Rotherham he was snapped up by York City, where he spent five months and really emerged as a real prospect.

Rochdale agreed a six-month loan deal for O’Connell last summer, which was soon extended to the full campaign, and his displays at Spotland have not gone unnoticed. Indeed he has also been handed the captain’s armband by Keith Hill, such has been his progress. He has also captained England’s Under-19 side as he continues to be recognised at international level.

O’Connell is a cultured defender, and has a real touch of class about him as he often looks to bring the ball out of defence before looking to open up play. O’Connell, who is also capable of operating at full-back, has an excellent left foot and he uses it with great effect to often try and switch play from the back. Despite his inexperience, O’Connell has come on hugely in the past 18 months and he looks destined for a high level.

He is an outstanding prospect, who has made great strides since joining Blackburn. Very much one to watch and already has a number of Premier League clubs monitoring him.

The Scout rating:

Shooting: 5/10

Passing: 7/10

Tackling: 7/10

Heading: 7/10

Pace: 6/10

Vision: 6/10

Current ability: 6/10

Potential ability: 8/10


Current value: £500,000

Potential value: £8million

This is the player that we picked up yesterday for a fee rumoured to be less than a quarter of a million pounds. Not bad, and what’s not to like about this move?

His arrival is just one more in a catalogue of recent arrivals who all share similar characteristics, being young, talented, hungry, and eager to improve and I am certain they will eventually take us to where we intend to go – the Premier League.

How long is it since the club possessed young players of the ability of James Tarkowski, Alan Judge, Moses Odubajo, Lewis Macleod, Scott Hogan, Andre Gray, Jota and now O’Connell? All of these players have been signed within the last year and they could be worth millions of pounds to the club as they are all appreciating assets of a calibre rarely seen before at the club.

That is also without even mentioning the calibre of recent loanees such as Jon Toral and Alex Pritchard.

Yes, at first sight it would have been nice if we had blown an inflated fee on an experienced journeyman striker yesterday, but we all know the potential cost of such a move if it doesn’t pay off, as has been the case to date with Nick Proschwitz (who scored a well-taken goal last night for the Development Squad). I am sure that we tried to buy a promising striker from abroad earlier in the window but our efforts were rebuffed.

bartWe will continue to conduct our business in a calm, rational, measured and planned way. I am sure that when the loan window reopens shortly we might consider a short term deal for another striker if the need continues, or maybe even another central defender given that it is expected that O’Connell will go out on loan, but there again, that was the plan for Tarkowski this time last year too!

The name of Swansea’s giant defender Kyle Bartley was also mentioned in despatches last night and who knows if he will arrive in a couple of weeks to bolster our squad?

We are in good and safe hands, we are well ahead of schedule and we will continue to do things in the manner that has been proved to work over the last couple of years. We are truly fortunate to be supporters of a club that is so well run and managed and has a clear blueprint for success.


18 thoughts on “More Haste Less Speed – 3/2/15

  1. the voice of reason, as always, Greville.
    I understand those who argue the Championship is wide open this season or who believe (as its Brentford innit) that ‘second season syndrome’ might cut in – but there is absolutely no evidence that the magnificent squad that has been assembled will do anything but continue to develop and thrive with more young and impressive stars joining them in the summer or on loan.
    Long live ‘more haste less speed’!


  2. Nice read. More positives than negatives without doubt. The negative to me(in my humble opinion), is our lack of threat from corners,total lack of threat. I am sure though this is seen but great build up play often ends in a corner….end of action. All I want is our dignity. We will drop out of top 6 slowly,but I hope this will not be a catastrophic occurrence.


  3. Seriously, anybody whinging about our ‘business’ in the ‘window’ needs to have a visit from the Ghost of Transfer Deadlines Past… It may have been March but remember Forster? Remember DJ?… Some of the best business in these times is keeping hold of the talent you already have.

    How would you feel if Arry Redknapp actually knew his stuff and spent his time yesterday chasing our talented youngsters rather than his usual preference for Has Beens like Adebayor? Or he wasn’t too busy trying to get an exchange on his duff Xmas present from West Ham?

    Just imagine Crystal Palace took Andre Gray off our hands giving us a quick profit… Or Jota was snapped up by a Premier League or La Liga club willing to invest in his potential.


    We got Long in on loan and he is clearly a talented boy. There’s our cover up front in addition to ‘Big NIck’ who actually scored a goal yesterday. Some people don’t know how good we’ve got it right now.

    Also, would you rather we bought a modern day equivalent of Neil Shipperley? I’m sure there are plenty out there. That is NOT how we do things now.

    Honestly, I read/hear people moan and can’t help shaking my head.


      • Ok, I’d just like to add something which might at first seem contradictory to my earlier comment!

        It is also important that we don’t just become satisfied with where we are. When we see the Ghost of Transfer Deadlines Future, I don’t want it to be saying, “ah yes, February 2015, that’s the best you’ll ever have it”.

        I think we need to get the balance right of understanding where we came from and enjoying careful, steady progress.

        I have every faith that there won’t be a second season syndrome struggle if we don’t go up this year.

        Just consider how much losing a Play Off Final can f**k teams up. Look at Orient as the most recent of many examples. When I came away from our Yeovil game though, I knew we’d go up the following season.

        Don’t underestimate the intelligence of the people we have in charge and generally around the place these days. We have brought in players, staff with the correct mentality (as well as knowledge of the game) to succeed. This is why if we get close but no cigar again (I can’t see us/anyone ever getting as close as a crossbar away), I’m sure we’ll just continue to come back stronger.

        If we do go up to the Premier League, there is every possibility we’d come straight back down. Not a guarantee, just a fact of financial life. If we did, I’m sure we’d build up the strength and just go up even tougher next time round.

        So basically, enjoy where we are right now. There shouldn’t really be any true Bees fan whinging these days. It’s not been better in most of our life times. We just haven’t reached our pinnacle yet. TRUST the people in charge. They know what they are doing and they will continue driving us on this wonderful journey. #COYB


  4. Great article Greville.
    The question now is whether Andre can find another 11 goals in the second half of the season. If he does, with healthy contributions from elsewhere then anything is possible.
    All we can do now is cheer loudly and enjoy the ride!


  5. I will also remind you that only a year or so ago the stated hope of most Brentford fans was that we would be in the Championship rather than Division One when we moved to our new stadium, and now we are talking about the Premier League! How far have we come in so short a period of time!

    Your remarks Greville got me musing on when exactly did the change take place? Mark Warburton’s arrival at the club was clearly highly influential, but my trip to Wembley, when he was assisting Nicky Forster, did little to change my “stated hope”. Uve Rosler also represented a sea change in attitudes, particularly at the club, but as you say above, there were still the “Stevenage talks”.
    I have trouble with the chronology, of who arrived when and before whom, but I think two factors have played an enormous part: our ability to attract the likes of Adam Forshaw and Jake Bidwell on loan, and Matthew Benham’s reticence to ‘splash the cash’. Ever since he has arrived at the club he has matched his generosity to the position of the club, and the ability of those running it to spend his money wisely.
    Nobody knows how much he is worth, but the money has always been there in sufficient quantities, but never more than necessary. When Bees United took over, he stood back and injected the bare minimum to get by. That clearly wasn’t going to work, so he took more of a stake in the club and spent a bit more money. Andy Scott was given just enough cash to get us out of League 2. We have never been at the top of the pile in terms of playing budget, but have had enough for an astute manager (and director of football) to bring in players, set up loans, adopt a playing style and achieve success.
    Not for Matthew Benham the Chelsea or Man City approach. He has never flung money at the problem. He has shown admirable restraint. How easy would it have been for him after the Doncaster/Yeovil season to throw money at the problem? And when we did get into the Championship, he increased the budget enough to make a few key acquisitions, all young and good investments for the future, but not enough to attract the attention of the media or our ‘biggers and betters’ with their parachute payments. Of course, the FFP regs now come into the equation, but I bet Brentford, with some of the smaller gates in the league, do not fall foul of it. Similarly, I bet Brentford’s playing budget (and player expenditure) may put us in the top half of the money table, but by no means matches our league position. At this moment in time, I believe Brentford has the perfect conjunction of wise owner and loyal lieutenants in Mark Warburton, David Weir, Mark Devlin and Frank McParland, who all share the same vision for the club and fully agree the means of achieving it.
    This combination has worked so well that we are now ahead of the timetable. But that is no reason not to believe all that has been achieved won’t last. Indeed, while many including me scoffed at the idea of an Academy above our station as a bottomless money pit, I can now see it is all part of Matthew Benham’s long-term plan. It will hopefully provide a steady stream of the kind of players we now take on loan or buy for £1 million.
    So getting back to when the change in my “stated hope” happened. I think it was the moment – after a first half in which we were the total underdogs – Stuart Dallas connected with the thunderbolt that put Derby firmly in their place.


  6. Mike, according to the panel at the fans forum they reckon our budget is in the bottom third of the Championship. Not bad going, eh!


  7. Spot on, of course, but far too much analysis by just about every Brentford Supporter. The simple fact is that Matthew Benham has a clear vision for success and the creation a dynasty. In setting out to achieve that vision, he has seen the absolute necessity to have the very best minds and mix of minds that create an outstanding football club. Benham knew Mark Warburton before he worked at Brentford and knew exactly how his mind ticked AND what a wonderful technical football and people motivating mind it is, alongside his understanding of Team Environment. Add into the mix David Weir, Frank McParland, Mark Devlin, the other coaches, medico’s, academy, etc, and there is a unit that is the equal to, if not better than, any other Football Club in the UK.
    Everyone outside that select group running Brentford FC is unaware of the detailed planning and strategies being implemented, cost pressures, personal player issues, competition from other clubs, ec. All we know is that this is one hell of a trip and very few football supporters at any club experience the development of a Dynasty on their doorstep as we are witnessing now.
    I first saw Brentford in 1954 and there has never been anything like what is happening now – so just enjoy the ride, enjoy the wins and do not become an instant expert. We have Benham, Warbs and the rest of the Team to do all that for us. Our role is support and enjoyment


  8. great words and advice i have been a supporter 4 50 years and we are playing the best football I have seen but because we r doing so well we now want 2 be in the premer leauge but like u said we have 2 be patient but we r getting older and want 2 be around to see that day we get in the top flight come on u beees mick gray from hayes and yes I GO 2 MOST AWAY GAMES ONLY MISSED 2 THIS SEASON


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