Why Marinus Has Gone – 28/9/15

Today’s news that Brentford Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen and his assistant, Roy Hendriksen have both left Griffin Park frankly comes as little surprise. The official statements from the club and Chairman Cliff Crown are brief, carefully worded and they take pains not to use the word. Parted company is the bland and anodyne expression used to explain their departure but let’s make no bones about it – the two of them have been sacked.

Dijkhuizen lasted a mere one hundred and twenty days in his post. Appointed on the first of June he departed on the twenty-eighth of September having presided over a mere nine competitive matches. Whilst he was officially titled Head Coach, he was team manager in everything bar name and should therefore be compared against previous occupants of that position.

Let’s get the history out of the way first. In modern times the previous shortest managerial tenure at the club was Eddie May’s who lasted nineteen games in his three months in charge followed by Leroy Rosenior and Terry Butcher who was in charge for twenty-three games and Scott Fitzgerald who managed one more match.

Eddie May potentially presents an interesting parallel for those of us who are conspiracy theorists. An unknown appointed out of left field from Dundalk with indecent haste by David Webb in August 1997 at a time when the club was in total disarray with a squad that had been decimated by the sale of players and the arrival of unknown journeymen replacements, he quite understandably struggled to get results and when the repeated promises of funds to improve the team failed to materialise he was sacked along with his assistant Clive Walker in November 1997, after just four league wins had left the club embroiled in a relegation battle which they ultimately lost on the last day of a quite dreadful season.

May was perceived as Webb’s dupe, the fall guy for the previous manager who had taken over as Chief Executive with the prime intention of ensuring that funds were brought in so that the club was debt free before it was sold to Ron Noades the following year.

Are there any similarities when we come to consider the reasons and rationale for the change in management that took place today?

I have thought long and hard about matters and whilst the start we have made to the season has been horrible there have certainly been extenuating circumstances. Let’s get the hard facts out of the way:

  • Brentford have gained only eight points from their first eight Championship matches and find themselves in nineteenth place, only two points off the bottom of the league
  • We have conceded the first goal in every match bar one and have yet to keep a clean sheet
  • The Bees have won only two matches, both against teams just promoted from Division One
  • We have lost two of our first four home games, could quite easily have lost all four and have trailed at half time in every game
  • A weakened team lost by four clear goals to Second Division Oxford United in the Capital One Cup
  • Performances have been stuttering and inconsistent, we find it hard to start matches on the front foot and there is no settled pattern of play

That is the prosecution case but there is an equally strong case for the defence that more than explains away our less then impressive start to the season:

  • Let’s try and keep a sense of perspective and simply take stock and recognise just how far we have come in such a short space of time particularly given our lack of resources compared to the overwhelming majority of our Championship rivals
  • The enforced sale and departure of five leading players from last season’s squad in Andre Gray, Jonathan Douglas, Moses Odubajo, Alex Pritchard and Stuart Dallas which rendered Dijkhuizen’s preseason preparations almost meaningless
  • Last season’s team included five potential match winners and game changers in Jota, Alan Judge, Odubajo, Pritchard and Gray – a figure currently reduced to one
  • A relentless and seemingly ever-increasing long-term injury list that has rendered key players such as Jota, Andreas Bjelland, Max Colin, Philipp Hofmann, Lewis Macleod and Josh McEachran hors de combat
  • The consequent need to blood members of the Development Squad who will certainly all benefit from the experience but for them to compete in the Championship at this stage of their career is a tough ask
  • Being forced to name only six substitutes including two goalkeepers at the strongest team in the league in Middlesbrough
  • The need to bed in simultaneously nearly half a team of newcomers from around Europe who have no knowledge of English conditions and The Championship and are not being buttressed by more experienced players around them
  • PitchGate – a total embarrassment for the club which necessitated the re-turfing of Griffin Park and the cancellation of the Birmingham home game
  • The scandalous situation at Jersey Road where the main training pitches are still unusable

Whilst there have been some rumblings and murmurings from supporters spoiled by the constant stream of success over the past three seasons and used to the wonderful attacking flair of Mark Warburton’s playoff team last season, the overwhelming majority of Brentford supporters are extremely patient and fair minded and were prepared to give Marinus more time, particularly given the almost insuperable problems he faced that were totally out of his control.

That being said there were growing concerns about his commitment to an impotent and restrictive 4-3-3 formation that patently wasn’t working given the limited resources he had and required constant changes on the hoof when we were chasing games that were already slipping away from us. Lasse Vibe, a proven international striker was hamstrung from being forced to play out wide on the right wing where he has been an isolated figure, rather than more centrally where he and Marco Djuricin looked a highly potent threat when they were finally allowed to play closer together.

Konstantin Kerschbaumer was an ever present in the team despite seemingly overwhelming evidence that he was unable to cope with the physicality of The Championship and the presence of expensive new signing Ryan Woods on the bench who has been clamouring for a start.

I have spoken to many of the key protagonists over the past few weeks and I have found absolutely no evidence that Marinus was in any way shape or form, overruled, instructed, hamstrung, restricted or second guessed in any of his key responsibilities in terms of picking the team, training and preparing them for action and most crucially in terms of game management, tactics and substitutions. He was given an entirely free hand and the freedom to act as he best saw fit. So any comparisons to Eddie May are totally inaccurate and invidious. Marinus was no puppet and was allowed to be his own man.

He had bought into the Brentford project and was happy with the new management structure. He was consulted on all player moves both in and out and whilst he would have liked some additional loan signings to cover for the current injury crisis, Marinus was content with the quality and calibre of the new signings.

So why then did he leave if he was not being made the scapegoat for a series of poor results that were to a large degree out of his control? Now this is where I have to resort to speculation and informed guesswork.

Perhaps the alarm bells were beginning to ring with the powers that be because of some of the onfield tactical and selection problems that I have previously mentioned earlier in this article as well as exploring in depth yesterday.

He also suffered in comparison with his predecessor. Mark Warburton was certainly a hard act to follow and his successor needed to get off to a flying start, something that was denied Marinus.

Warburton was also a workaholic control freak, in the nicest sense of the words. He arrived early at the training ground and left extremely late. Training routines were meticulously planned and organised well in advance and the players knew exactly where they stood and how they were going to spend their days.

It would appear that Marinus and Roy Hendriksen did not run such a tight ship in terms of either time keeping and preparation and a far more laissez faire atmosphere prevailed. This apparently did not go down well with either players or management.

I believe that today’s action has been taken by Matthew Benham on the recommendation of the Co-Directors of Football in order to nip matters in the bud before they can be allowed to get out of hand and beyond control.

It cannot be denied that this is an enormous blow to the credibility of the new regime at the club and I am sure that the media will not be slow to point fingers and make fun at our expense. Such are the vicissitudes of life and we will just have to cope with this opprobrium as best we can.

Brentford pride themselves on doing things differently to other clubs, thinking out of the box and acting far smarter than their rivals.  An enormous amount of due diligence was done before Marinus was hired and he interviewed exceptionally well and seemed to tick all the boxes. However the fact remains that actions speak louder than words and apparently he has not convinced the powers that be since he arrived and drastic action has been taken sooner rather than later to avert the slump before too much damage is done.

It could reasonably be argued that this is an extremely brave move rather than a panicked knee jerk reaction and this could even be a turning point for us in what is developing into a tough season and one where consolidation is perhaps the best we can hope for rather than pushing on from last season’s massive and incredible achievements. As they say – one step backwards – two steps forward!

Lee Carsley is an excellent choice to take over the mantle as Head Coach. Supported by Paul Williams he is a known entity who has already gained the unconditional respect of the entire squad. He is an experienced and proven international footballer who can put his caps on the table and he has previous managerial experience at Coventry City. Most importantly he has a deep working knowledge of The Championship and he will be keen to put one over one of his old clubs, Birmingham City, at Griffin Park tomorrow night.

So on the surface this has not been a good day for the club, but when you drill down deeper and think matters through, then perhaps it has been a brave and correct decision to relieve Marinus and Roy of their jobs.

All will surely be revealed and become apparent over the coming weeks and months.

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27 thoughts on “Why Marinus Has Gone – 28/9/15

  1. Having read some of the frankly laughable comments on the Beesotted Facebook page, thank you Grevillle for you considered views on today’s events. I agree with most of what you have written. Ultimately, I think the decision taken was for the best, since things could not continue as they were. Yes, the pitch, the injuries, were a factor, but something wasn’t right. Tomorrow will be an interesting night.

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  2. Thanks Michael, I have tried to think it through, talk to the right people and get things as accurate as I possibly can. Tonight will be interesting and cathartic perhaps but it will still take a while to get things back on track I fear.

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  3. In your analysis you have 6 bullet points in favour of your conclusion and 9 bullet points against it, so how come you arrived at your conclusion? I think it is a terrible decision for too many reasons to go into here, and apart from anything else it makes us look like we don’t know what we are doing. Maybe we don’t.

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    • It’s not my decision. I’m simply trying to analyse why it happened.

      I have also made it clear that what’s been happening on the pitch is not the main reason for the sacking and the fact that there are more points in his favour relating to infield and match related activity as you pointed out highlights that there were other reasons for his going.

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    • I agree with Spanish Bee, as your conclusions do not match your premise – or should that be vice versa? And I have serious doubts about the wisdom of Bentham, having let go a manager who has since guided Rangers to 9 wins from 9 games and will very probably go on to be one of the finest managers in the PL soon.

      And why did he do so? Merely because Warbs would not believe in an unproven fairy-tale system, preferring to believe in hard work and discipline that gave results! Only a fool would have thrown out Warbs, and we are apparently stuck with a fool!

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      • Thanks for your thoughts, I was only going on what I heard and was told. As for your premise, we will simply have to wait and see whether our approach works or not but I can well understand how some people are feeling shortchanged at the moment even though there are two sides to every story.

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  4. Thanks Greville. Common sense succinctly put, as usual. I believe most of us sensed something wasn’t right but as we have no access to ‘behind the scenes’ we are left guessing, speculating or (in the case of some sections of the media) making it up based on gossip and hearsay.
    The difficult part (like with Terry Butcher) was that Marinus appeared to be a very honest, nice bloke who was working hard at his job. However, I’d like to think I’m a nice guy and would work hard but if I was asked to undertake a job that was too big for me, I either need help or replacing. Matthew has gone for the latter. The King is dead, long live the King. Starting tonight, hopefully!

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  5. Benhams judgement must surely come under scrutiny. He had months to scour Europe for a replacement for Warburton and came up with a guy he has got rid of after 8 games and then gives the job to someone who was under his nose all the time. Don’t know how much say Djikhuizen had in transfers but surely the mass signings of unproven foreign players with no experience of English Championship level by Benham and Ankersen was a mistake. Coupled with the departures of several key players and our horrendous injury run it is of no surprise that we have struggled. After the debacle of the Reading home game performances since have undoubtedly improved and despite rumours of training ground unrest I have seen nothing to suggest that the players haven’t been giving it there all for club and manager on the pitch. The jury remains firmly out on the effect of the stats based system in my opinion. We remain totally ineffective and impotent on free kicks and corners still despite expensively assembled specialist coaches employed in this field. One also wonders how stats from the 2nd division of a European League correlate to the level we are playing at. As always we will rally round and get behind the new manager who may well turn out to be an inspired choice, he will be helped by returning players soon hopefully.

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  6. Something needed to change, i’m clinging to this whilst on a human level i’m feeling really sad for MD/RH.

    I’m struck by the contrast between the openness of MD in response to questions, and the hopelessly insufficient statement from our chairman yesterday, maybe that contrast was intentional on both sides and part of the reason MD has gone. I’m also struck by the standard of judgement applied to the coach, whilst the 2 DoF’s seem to be judged to an altogether different standard – are we a team and at what point do others above the coach take some responsibility?

    Whichever way you look at it this is a PR disaster for BFC, i’m genuinely staggered by what’s gone on since last Feb. When BFC hurts, I hurt too, remember it is our club as much as it is MB’s.

    Check out Michael Calvin the Independent journo’s twitter feed yesterday his words are interesting.

    The selections and body language of the players will be very telling tonight.

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  7. well greville football has not much changed from my time it is always the manger ooops the coach who goes first but the same players stay As you know i was not at all for this coaching lark and iam still not and the the chairman has put someone which was there already?thou its benhams money i just wonder if he put someone else in place who lets more inclined in his thinking of running the club.Lets be honest how many mangers would be contenders for BFC COACH and not manger.All i hope is we march on forward and stay out of a relegation battle

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  8. Hi Greville, I think the decision for this ‘sacking’ was constructed far earlier than this week. How many of us would succeed in a new company where your equipment is broken (pitch), your best staff offed to your competitors & then replaced with untried temps who are learning on the job & to compound it all your ace sales team all end up on long term sick?

    Managers fault? Hardly. I just wish Crown & Ankersen stood up & said ‘ you know, we got this gamble wrong’. I would have way more faith & respect for that, as this is the path we have publically stated we want (no harm in that) – who of us never made a management mistake? But it was their mistake not the managers.

    Too many foreign league bargains, not enough Championship tried & tested – lesson learned concerning the right mix. As for Marianus, coming from Excelsior to the Championship was in my view a step too far, or maybe too early but also not given the right tools in place to succeed by Brentford. Culture differences, game pace & media scrutiny makes the Championship brutal & possesion is pointless if you do nothing with it. Last weekend I listened to some clever nitwit on Sky annouce that the team with the highest level of possesion in the entire football league was Brentford – he then followed by adding ‘and lets look at their league position’. I did use a few unrepeatable words at the telly, which the wife overheard. The media wants us too fail at this soooooo badly, make no mistake about that.

    I do still think we are in Warburton withdrawl (me included). I need to get over that. Be brave – stand up & say it – we gambled on our manager & came up short & we sold off too much talent before being certain of its replacement. Don’t be so hell bent that every purchase or decision has to be totally radical because that is what the media expect of us now. I think the Carsely decision makes much more sense in terms of his pedigree, international experience & internal club knowledge. It really is a massive chance for Mr Carsley, who I think stands to receive more support than his predecessor did, which seems unfair on reflection.

    I suppose what I really wish is that we don’t try to play bargain hunting with our managers like we do with our squad acquisitions & the Marianus appointment had that feel to it.

    In the meantime I hope that Carsley can ramp up the tempo & the spirit for tonights game – I get the feeling Birmingham might smell blood & I hope we can get after them from the getgo.

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  9. Another excellent article and the reason why there’s no point in me writing a blog myself – after all, you say very eloquently what I think most of us are thinking! Not much to add to the excellent comments above, except to agree with many of them. Key points for me:

    1. Letting Warburton go / engineering a situation where he felt he had to go was a MASSIVE mistake by the club. As much as we owe him for where we are today, the blame lies squarely at the owner’s door.

    2. The mathematical model should have been put on hold for as long as Warbs was with us. For goodness’ sake, we finished FIFTH IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP last season! After years of languishing in lower league obscurity! Surely Benham should have parked his new approach, kept our best manager ever and held onto Warburton for another season at least?!

    3. MD was a nice guy, etc. etc. but to coin a phrase, ‘nice guys finish last’ (or 19th as things currently stand). He was the WRONG APPOINTMENT and hopelessly out of his depth. I sit next to a Derby fan at work and we talk about the Championship all the time. As he puts it, it is a RELENTLESS league! Not amazing skill (as shown by Sheff Weds – a very average side) but you need to be on your ‘A game’ every single Tuesday and every single Saturday (with the occasional Friday and Monday thrown in for good measure). MD simply did not have the experience, wherewithal, tactical nous or, I’m afraid, connection with the players to be successful. Yes, eight games (actually nine, counting the 4-0 battering by Oxford) is not enough games to prove yourself – but anyone who watched the Reading match or first half versus Wednesday will know how awful we were, and I’m afraid that when it comes to preparation, team selection and tactics, the manager has to ultimately carry the can.

    4. To coin another phrase, where Bournemouth went for evolution, we went for revolution. Too much, too soon. And one area where the club really c**ked up was in failing to anticipate just how many of our key players from last season would want to leave after Warburton departed. Yes, Moses may well have left anyway, but I honestly believe that, had Warburton remained, the likes of Dallas and Gray would have felt more inclined to stay too (and obviously Douglas would not have been forced out the door).

    5. The question has already been posed, but why on earth has Ryan Woods been stuck on the bench? Yes, he made a mistake against Leeds, but when he came on against Wednesday he looked absolutely sensational – but he was only given FIVE MINUTES!!! To me, he is the future and we should be building a team around him. MD should have shown positive intent against Wednesday, started with Woods and Canos and gone for the win from minute one. If I was Benham and had spent a million pounds on League One’s most exciting young player, I wouldn’t have been happy that my head coach wasn’t giving him a game.

    I am sad for Dijkhuizen and I am angry at the club we all love so much, but I am also excited and pleased that we now have another chance to hopefully start the season afresh from this point on. Like most Bees fans, when I go to a game I want to see passion, commitment, heart and some semblance of a plan based on intelligent attacking football that primarily involves keeping the ball on the deck. In the games I’ve seen against Ipswich, Reading and Sheff Weds this has simply not been the case (sadly the only home game I missed was the only game we won!). I appreciate that we have shown flashes of good play here and there, but here and there is not enough – especially not at this level. For that reason Marinus had to go and I am looking forward to an English (Irish) manager who will hopefully take the passion we all feel for the club, channel that to the players and begin to turn things around on the pitch. Even with all the injuries, we still have the makings of a good team. Let’s now have the confidence to show it.

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      • Yes, more than happy. To be honest, I have been looking for a reasoned, intelligent (but still passionate!) forum in which to discuss BFC with fellow supporters for a while and this is definitely it! More than happy to have you publish anything! Glad you feel it is worthy and fingers crossed for some good news tonight come 9.30pm!

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  10. Greville, do you think MD naming two goalkeepers on the bench at Middlesbrough was a kind of act of defiance? The Dev squad had played the night before just down the road yet no one was called up?
    It reflected badly on the club.

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