Queens Park Rangers – Nil, Brentford – Three. Doesn’t that scoreline have a lovely ring to it? It slides off the tongue so smoothly and perfectly. Just try saying it for yourself and see!
No matter that the victory came in a Development Squad tussle rather than in a first team match. Any victory over the old enemy at whatever level, and yes, despite any suggestions to the contrary regarding the likes of Fulham or even Birmingham City, QPR are certainly Brentford’s traditional rival and bête noire, must be savoured and luxuriated over.
Just in case our friends from Shepherd’s Bush think that yesterday’s result was an aberration, fluke or anomaly let me just remind them that we did the double over them last season too, scoring six times in the two matches and dominating proceedings to such an extent that even The Invisible Man, the immortal Betinho, managed to get himself on the scoreboard.
Oh, and if that still isn’t enough we also beat the Ra Ra’s by four goals to two last Saturday in the Under 18 Youth League.
Have I done enough gloating. No, not yet by a long chalk. I’ve barely got started.
My good friend, Mark Croxford, watched yesterday’s match which was dominated from start to finish by a young, vibrant, confident, exciting and talented Brentford team who could and should have scored at least six times and afterwards he spoke to a Rangers fan who ruefully and despondently admitted that it was the second time in only a couple of days that his team had been totally outplayed by a Brentford team. What wonderful words and doesn’t it make you feel good to read them particularly given the source of the comment?
There were lots of noteworthy performances and Lee Carsley and his coaches must have been purring with a mixture of pride and pleasure given how well the team had played on the day.
I also suspect that he was feeling a lot more sanguine than he was a couple of weeks ago after the Capital One Cup hammering by Oxford United. On the one hand he must have been proud at the fact that so many of his best prospects were named in the Brentford first team, but on the other, he would not have been happy at the way in which Josh Clarke, Josh Laurent, Courtney Senior and Jermaine Udumaga were thrown to the wolves and hung out to dry by being totally exposed in an horrendously weak team that lacked any real first team experience or seemingly even the will to compete.
Jack Bonham had the confidence boost of a long awaited clean sheet yesterday which included an excellent penalty save. He had an awful night against Oxford United when he could do little to prevent a torrent of goals and also fell foul of a fickle crowd who treated him appallingly, but hopefully he is now well on the road to recovery. He has all the ability in the world and he has been well coached, but success as a goalkeeper at Football League level is as much about intangibles such as sound judgement, good temperament and the ability to make instantaneous and correct decisions. I have long held the view that Bonham needs to gain experience by means of a loan spell away from Griffin Park and from playing games every week in which there are points and bonuses at stake rather than withering on the bench and playing Development squad matches which generally lack the necessary bite and passion.
Josh Clarke has also managed to rehabilitate himself from being a winger whose career was stalling to becoming an exciting attacking right back who now looks as if he could make a name for himself. He was one of the few players who enhanced his reputation against Oxford United and he must surely have taken inspiration from the example of Moses Odubajo who set such high standards last season.
Aaron Greene has pace, height, power and dribbling ability and was deeply impressive throughout the preseason period. He too has a real chance of making the grade.
Josh Laurent had a brief taste of first team football against Oxford and has now also made his Football League debut whilst on loan at Newport County. He too has much to learn and will certainly have his eyes opened throughout his loan spell but he has real ability and could go far. As an ex-QPR prospect whose departure from the club was greeted by massive outpourings of anger and frustration on QPR message boards, he must have been upset to have missed yesterday’s thrashing of his old team but I am sure he is happy to be where he is for the time being.
Daniel O’Shaughnessy is also finally settling down and developing into an effective central defender who might soon benefit from a loan spell and first team football elsewhere.
Midfielder Jan Holldack has also caught the eye with some encouraging midfield performances playing just behind the main striker in which he has demonstrated a real eye for goal from long range.
We are also blessed with real talent up front with Jermaine Udumaga, who made his Championship debut at Turf Moor last weekend and by no means looked out of place, Courtney Senior who has already made his first team debut whilst on loan for Wycombe Wanderers last season and Montell Moore who has much to prove after last season’s off-field indiscretions but is blessed with massive ability.
There is also a plethora of players coming through at an even younger age group and the likes of Tom Field, James Ferry, Zain Westbrooke and Gradi Milenge are all expected to improve further this season.
Brentford have gained much publicity and even notoriety over the last few months from their oft-stated policy of using a statistically based approach towards player identification and recruitment.
That is all very well but unless that strategy is underpinned and supported by a successful Academy system that also produces players who come into first team contention then all our efforts are likely to end in failure. We have lavished care, attention and monetary support into a Category Two Academy and hopefully it will start to bear fruit shortly.
We also need to ensure that there is a tried and tested pathway from the Academy however, first team places have to be earned on merit and the Oxford United experience when far too many youngsters were thrown together at one time clearly demonstrated that young players, however promising they are, need to be eased into the first team gently and in small numbers and also surrounded, encouraged and supported by more experienced team mates.
That being said, I would love us to be in a position before the end of this current season to introduce a policy or protocol whereby there has to be at least one Academy or Development Squad product on the bench for every first team game, with every effort, if not a directive, to be made to ensure that some of them actually play in the Championship and that we continue to give them pitch experience in all cup matches.
Yesterday was good news, firstly for the boost that any victory over QPR brings us, but, just as importantly because it provided further firm evidence that we are a long way ahead of our rivals in terms of our youth development – and that is really a reason to be cheerful.