As some of you might have noticed, I have a taken a short break from my blog which has hopefully fulfilled the dual benefit of giving you all some respite from my ceaseless prattling and also enabled me to have a rest and ideally recharge my batteries in time for the new season.
So what’s been happening over the course of the past month or so in and around Brentford FC? Well, quite a lot actually, and the purpose of this article is simply to provide everyone with a quick update and catch-up as well as look forward to the excitement of the next few weeks as the players return for preseason training and the transfer market begins to hot up.
Given that our involvement in the playoffs meant that last season ended later than anticipated – but perhaps earlier than hoped – on 15th May, there has been a hive of activity at Griffin Park over the last six weeks or so. The new backroom team has now been assembled and is hard at work with Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen arriving after a successful spell in charge at Excelsior who he led to promotion, before, against all the odds, consolidating their position in the Eredivisie and gaining a excellent reputation for innovation, youth development and a determination to play good football despite limited resourses.
His achievements and approach certainly ticked all the boxes for Matthew Benham, as did his willingness to embrace the management structure and analytics based system that the Brentford owner intends to implement at the club, where the Head Coach has an important say, but no actual veto, on incoming players.
Fellow Dutchman Roy Hendriksen, a former playing colleague of Dijkhuizen, is the new Assistant Head Coach and it will be fascinating and illuminating as well as a little bit concerning, if truth be told, to see how well the players respond to their ideas, tactical innovation and man management skills after the overwhelming success and popularity of their predecessors, Mark Warburton and David Weir who presided over a totally united and motivated dressing room.
As for the Two W’s themselves, I wish them both nothing but success and good fortune for the future given how brilliantly they served us, but I have spent the last month since their departure worrying that their shadow would loom over us, particularly if they had decided, as at one time appeared a distinct possibility, to move on to another Championship team. Thankfully they are now both out of sight and out of mind, facing a massive new challenge over the border at Glasgow Rangers, and with respect to my feelings towards Mark and David, I can only echo the immortal blessing from Fiddler On The Roof – May God bless and keep the Tsar – far away from us.
Rasmus Ankersen and Phil Giles have come in to jobshare as Co-Directors of Football with responsibility for player recruitment and for ensuring that the runes are properly examined, fresh gems identified and polished and that there is a constant supply of new talent to enhance the strong squad already in situ at the club.
The final piece of the jigsaw saw the appointment last week of experienced coach Flemming Pedersen as Head of Football Philosophy and Player Development. He will assist in coaching the first team as well as being responsible for setting out Brentford’s football philosophy and structuring individual development plans for players. I assume he will be acting as a Technical Director and will liaise with coaches at all levels of the club, as well as the Academy Director, in order to ensure uniformity and that the same approach and style of football is employed throughout the club.
Only Brentford could actually use the word philosophy in a job title for a football coach and this just highlights that we are marching to our own drum and doing things rather differently to the rest of the football world – and long may that remain the case if we are to maintain or even expand our competitive advantage over clubs far less enlightened, ambitious, or forward seeking than ourselves.
The tabloid media in the shape of The Daily Mirror took a cheap shot at us in a puerile and superficial article that poked fun at us regarding Flemming’s unusual and original job title, but this is now par for the course.
Throughout the course of history, innovative and original thinkers across all spheres of activity have been universally mocked and ridiculed for propagating ideas and practices that break new ground and are outside the accepted rules and methodology. It is far easier and less taxing on the brain to make fun of something new rather than take the time, trouble and intellectual challenge of examining it, breaking it down into its component parts and then analysing and evaluating it in greater detail.
The mainstream football media is gunning for us and it is now open season on Brentford FC. There are many people both within the game and who also commentate upon it who would like nothing better than to see us fall flat on our backsides and speedily return from whence we came with our tail firmly between our legs. Those cocky little upstarts at Brentford need to be put back in their rightful place goes their thinking. Not only are they unwilling to take the time and trouble to get their head around the way in which we are now running and structuring the club, there is also a massive residue of sympathy remaining towards Mark Warburton given the outside perception of how unfairly he was rewarded by us despite being responsible for bringing so much unexpected success to the club.
Last season we were media darlings until Timesgate in February, but this year will almost certainly be different and we need to be prepared to batten down the hatches and await the onslaught and ideally defend our position. The best way to throw negative comments back from whence they came is simply by proving that they are inaccurate and erroneous and in that regard it would be enormously helpful if we are able to hit the ground running and get off to a fast start to the new season, clearly demonstrate that we remain on course for greater things, that our progress and development continues apace and that we are in the vanguard of a new era for football.
No pressure then on what is pretty much an entirely new team behind the first team. There is continuity in the welcome presence of Kevin O’Connor and Simon Royce with Lee Carsley remaining in charge of the Development Squad and thankfully there has been no news of any departures from amongst the valued ranks of our highly prized analysis, fitness and medical support staff.
Given the changes, it might well take a little while for things to gel, who knows, but given the quality of personnel that we possess and the level of planning that has gone into every major decision that we have taken, I remain fully confident about our prospects. In my next article I will take a look at the Brentford squad, examine the new arrivals, speculate on who might be coming or going and eagerly look forward to the exciting few weeks that lie ahead as we build our squad for the new season.
Ahead Of The Game
For anyone interested in reading my take on everything that happened both on and off the pitch last season, as well as the odd diversion into nostalgia, player profiles and club history, leavened with some (hopefully) pertinent and amusing comments, my new book Ahead Of The Game is available now.
Here are the Links to where the book can be purchased:
Published 17 June 2015 | 978-1-910515-14-3 | 408 pages | Print and Kindle | £15.99, £8.99