It is time for every Brentford supporter to put the last couple of weeks behind us. The past fortnight has seen a series of misfortunes and embarassments both on and off the pitch which have been allowed to snowball and caused even the most optimistic of us to look into our glass and see it as half empty rather than full to the brim, but now we need to put an end to all feelings of negativity and look forward and not back.
But first let’s just get everything off our chest one last time before we move on:
- A patchy end to the preseason with unconvincing performances and defeats at Luton and Norwich
- Being hit by an injury jinx that now affects Josh McEachran, Scott Hogan, Lewis MacLeod, Jota, Marcos Tebar, Nico Yennaris and Andreas Bjelland with our record signing likely to miss the entire season
- Harlee Dean and Alan Judge falling foul of a bug
- A settled looking squad losing the services of Jonathan Douglas, Stuart Dallas and Moses Obubajo
- The will he, won’t he Andre Gray saga which is still being played out in front of us
- Pitchgate and how the club has been made to look bumbling and incompetent by its failure to provide an adequate surface, resulting in the postponement of our next home game against Birmingham
- The Oxford United Capital One cup fiasco and how we shot ourselves in the foot by fielding seven debutants before subsiding to an appalling four goal home defeat to a club two divisions below us who took the tie seriously
- Murmurings of discontent from some of the faithful, culminating in the over-the-top applause for the returning Jonathan Douglas and the ludicrous cries in support of the departed Mark Warburton
- Some totally uncalled for and highly unpleasant abuse of goalkeeper Jack Bonham on Tuesday night. Admittedly he had a shocker but how is belittling him going to improve his performance
Is that everything or have I missed anything out? If so then let’s just acknowledge and accept everything that has happened, put our negativity behind us and instead concentrate on the immediate future and on all the positive things that are happening in and around the club.
A quick search on YouTube will reveal a wonderful new documentary made by Copa 90 on the similarities in approach between both Brentford and FC Midtylland. It features our Co-Director of Football Rasmus Ankersen and a number of supporters discussing how the clever and innovative use of statistics and mathematical modelling has transformed the fortunes of both clubs and made them the talk of the football world.
Watching the film reinvigorated me and totally renewed my faith in what we are doing and how we are doing it .
We are only one game into what will be a marathon Championship season. There are still forty-five matches to go, plenty of time for us to have bedded in our new players, sorted out our best team, established our optimum pattern of play and given our new management and coaching team sufficient opportunity to understand the harsh realities of the league in which they are now competing.
Marinus Dijkhuizen has already come in for some sniping and criticism from supporters who are quick to find fault and compare him to his predecessor. Given the management structure now in place behind the scenes Marinus is possibly feeling the heat and taking the blame for decisions taken by others, although he was naive in the extreme to underestimate the quality of the challenge that Oxford United would pose and decide to field a team that was so lacking in experience.
Rather than damn him with criticism or at best, faint praise, I would instead commend him for his actions last Saturday when, fully aware that his team were being outplayed and were offering little threat to an Ipswich team that was totally dominating the midfield, he was brave and flexible enough to make changes early in the second half, bring on Gray and Vibe who revitalised a flagging team and go to three at the back which allowed more players to pour forward until we had five attackers on the pitch by the end.
I honestly do not think that Mark Warburton would have responded to a tough situation to the same extent as Marinus did and his tactical flexibility and positivity received its due reward with two late goals that earned an unlikely point.
Today also saw the arrival of a replacement for the departed Moses Odubajo, and is is now the custom, nobody outside the magic circle within the club could have guessed his identity, heard of him or known anything about his capabilities. Twenty-three year old right back Maxime Colin has arrived from Belgian side Anderlecht for a fee rumoured to be around £900,000, or about a quarter of the the sum we received from Hull for Moses. Yet another example of our selling high and replacing far cheaper. French Under 20 international Maxime is another total mystery to us supporters but is reputed to be skilful on the ball and quick and will therefore fit in perfectly with the way we intend to play.
Maxime is our ninth signing of the summer and with the exception of Ryan Williams, who is a cheap anomaly, Josh McEachran and the experienced Andreas Bjelland, the other six in Akaki Gogia (Hallescher), Yoann Barbet (Chamois Niortais), Konstantin Kerschbaumer (Admira Wacker), Philipp Hofmann (Kaiserslautern), Lasse Vibe (Goteborg) and now Maxime Colin (Anderlecht) all fit the same pattern being young foreign players with bags of room for improvement, reasonably priced, totally unknown to us and not apparently on the radar of any of our rivals. This last named fact means to me that we are either identifying and scouting prospects far better and more thoroughly than our competition, or else we are signing players that have already been considered and rejected by everybody else! My money is on the first option. Last season Brentford and Wigan seemed to share an identical shopping list, now we appear to be streets ahead of other teams.
Our new arrivals will all take time to settle down and there is no guarantee that they will all prove to be a success but the chances are that we will have some new heroes to enjoy as the season develops. As for Andre Gray, hopefully he can now get his head down and concentrate on scoring goals for us, and if he does so then his move will come, perhaps sooner rather than later, and given his rapid rate of improvement, I am sure that he will end up playing for a far bigger fish than Hull City, and if and when he does leave us then his replacement, who I am pretty certain has already been identified and his club approached, will shortly arrive in his place, and he will also fit the pattern of the rest of new signings in terms of his age and development potential.
We simply have to believe and trust in the process. Of course there will be some bumpy roads ahead and lots of teething problems for us to overcome, and quite a bit of patience might well be called for on our part as we bed in new players, staff and systems, but our basic premise and business plan is sound and is surely the only one that allows Brentford, a veritable minnow in comparison with the giants in the Championship, to compete on an almost even playing field.
We have a tiny budget compared to the rest of the league, many of whom are buttressed by massive parachute payments. Last season was miraculous and our success was due to our having a number of good players who were well managed and prepared and who took the opposition by surprise. We were generally underestimated and the other teams will not make that mistake again.
We can do the same or even better this season but we supporters need to recognise just how tough it will be for us to do so as we need to keep progressing merely to stand still and we also have to try to manage our expectations which have become somewhat inflated and are in my view quite unrealistic.
Perhaps we need to consolidate for a year before we push on again? It just remains to be seen and maybe a finish halfway up the league might in the circumstances be just as impressive as finishing in the playoff positions was last season?
Tomorrow will be another tough test at a revitalised Bristol City team still on a high from their promotion to the Championship last season. We will have to keep a careful eye out for their most dangerous attacker in central defender Aden Flint, scorer of a quite glorious own goal the last time the two teams met at Griffin Park but he has since proved to be far more lethal at the other end of the pitch and we will concede set pieces at our peril.
Hopefully our nemesis Keith Stroud will also have one of his less combustible days and decide that he has already done us far more than our fair share of damage in recent years and not be an influence on proceedings. If we can impose ourselves on the game early on and silence the crowd then three points are well within our grasp and I am hopeful of a successful outcome.
I look forward to seeing you all there tomorrow!