With ten games gone and Brentford wallowing in the nether regions of The Championship I wrote an overview of our current situation on Sunday and made a few suggestions regarding how I felt matters both on and off the field might conceivably be improved.
Here is what some of you had to say in response.
Richard Poole harked back to the past and the influence that an experienced old hand could have on his younger team mates as well as the importance of the fans maintaining their support when things are going wrong:
You’re right about Jimmy Gabriel. I was playing alongside him at the time. Yes, he could hardly run but he did not need to as he totally dominated possession and was a total inspiration to us youngsters and someone to come into the team like him now would help a lot.
Jackie Graham also played in that Brentford team and even now you could take him out of retirement and I’m sure that he could help, if not on field at least in training even at his advanced age. He would put grit into the team and let everyone know exactly what it means to pull on that red and white striped shirt.
I can understand the effect of so many injuries and even that some players might not be up to standard but if I am reading correctly in between the lines these players are not coming off the pitch having given everything. There’s nothing you can do if they not prepared to run and you fans know who is trying or not.
Yes it looks like we are going to be in a long relegation fight and I can understand the fans being disappointed after last season’s showing but that’s football – it turns so quickly.
We have just got to get behind our team, yes that’s what supporting a club means and I know so well how much you fans have suffered over so many years but I can tell you after what I experienced as a young teenager coming in to the side THEY NEED YOU FANS more than ever. We were nearly bottom of the fourth division but the supporters got behind us home and away. They were fantastic and we need that spirit again.
Larry Signy agreed that more independent representation was needed in the Boardroom:
Any form of dictatorship is a bad thing – so your fourth suggestion – “a couple of independent non-executive directors” – hits the nail firmly on the top of the bonce. It is, I would suggest, essential. I for one don’t want a backroom that is in my opinion full of yes-men and I include the two Bees United board men, who are outvoted in any case.
David M felt that it was simply a case of too much too soon:
Too much change too fast. We needed evolution not revolution. The players brought in on the statistical system needed time in the development squad building up their fitness and stature whilst getting well acquainted with our system of play. Meanwhile players already proven in this league should have been brought in to replace those sold on. Players that would slot in to the role they were replacing. And yes we need someone with some football league experience having some kind of say, someone who knows how to go about things in this league because at all levels we lack experience and the one thing that will get us out of this mess is someone who’s dealt with it before and knows exactly how to go about repairing the team.
Rebel Bee used an extremely pejorative term to describe what is going on – one that I do not concur or agree with:
The most positive thing I can find after 10 games is that we are fifth from bottom after an awful start. This suggests that the division isn’t as strong as last time and that there are plenty of other candidates for the drop. If we could find a way to finish the season in our current league position I’d bite your hand off for it right now.
Our problems are not simply coaching related, this team isn’t nearly strong or balanced enough at present. The vanity project is flawed and there is a startling lack of football experience in the club to put it right.
I would love to be proved wrong but I fear the worst, and I don’t want to describe how bad that looks.
Ben picked up on this point:
There is nothing wrong with vanity as it covers many things such as arrogance, pride, self regard, traits that most successful people possess. So I find that a cheap dig at Matthew Benham’s initiative.
However there are some some very good thoughts on here regarding the situation even if there are not many solutions that excite me. We look like the same team that finished last season at Middlesbrough but with only ten games under the belt rather than the fifty that team had endured.
I have worked out that all was not well with Marinus at the training ground but I can’t understand why that didn’t come to light in preseason training in Portugal some three months ago. I liked Marinus and thought that he would eventually have turned things round as he seemed like a good coach and proper football man. Lee Carsley hardly excites at the moment and his post match interview on Saturday was unrecognisable from the comments of fans who were at the game.
Rasmus gave a good interview in the week and seemed very laid back and assuring about Carsley’s position and admitted they got it wrong with Marinus but if we lose the next four games which is very possible, how long will he be given before he has to repeat these words? Why didn’t they just say Carsley was overseeing the first team for an indefinite time and save any more embarrassment. I would go for Karl Robinson, sort out who wants in and who wants out on the playing side and that goes for Dean, Judge, Tarks and anyone who is sulking on the pitch. I agree that this is a poor league this season and the hope is that there are a few clubs worse than us.
Rebel Bee came back as follows:
I think that analytics have some value and support Matthew Benham for looking at ways to make us more competitive. The concept has value I’m sure, but the forced pace of change culminating in Mark Warburton’s departure, and the subsequent outcomes from the decisions taken, in a results based business, totally justify questions and balanced criticism.
I would have preferred Warburton’s time at the club to have run its course, he wasn’t at all against analytics and was the perfect man to take Benham’s ideas forward. Warburton may well have left us ultimately, and then Matthew Benham could have pushed on further. So if the concept has value then I have to question its implementation, the way it has been communicated to the fans, and most of all the personnel entrusted to make it work.
So in summary I don’t disagree with the project in its entirety, what I disagree with is getting beaten every week by ordinary teams, and throwing away a brilliant platform that Matthew Benham and Mark Warburton built together. The damage seems self inflicted to me.
You defined vanity as “arrogance, pride, self regard” and I’d include all of those words in my description of this as a “vanity project”.
beesyellow22 summed it all up extremely well:
A fantastic response from Rebel Bee.
You have put it all so eloquently that I really have very little to add except for a big round of applause for what you said and the way you said it.
Unfortunately this is now the way things seem to be at Brentford. Matthew Benham has done so much for our club, that to be seen to criticise him in any way attracts criticism itself.
The forced pace of change has been horrendous and we are now seeing the evidence of that on the pitch, the table does not lie, we really have only won two games out of ten. Also, I agree that the people brought in have, so far, not exactly covered themselves in glory.
I like Ankersen and Giles as people. In interviews and at the fans’ forum they came across very well. But again, the proof of the pudding is where we sit in the table, the lack of any clean sheets and the way in which we have played.
Yes, we have injuries, but we also have the likes of Djuricin, Vibe, Kerschbaumer and Gogia playing. Players all brought in by our new Co-Directors of Football who have patently not yet performed to the required standard.
Like Rebel Bee I too do not disagree with the project and I applaud our owner for having the vision to seek success in a brave new way. But when you have your most successful season for eighty years and then do not do everything in your power to retain the person largely responsible, then that, in my opinion, is pure folly.
To call it a vanity project might be a little harsh on Matthew Benham. However, the fact is, he did allow Warburton to leave and was seemingly implacable in his belief that the Moneyball approach was worth the sacrifice.
We all hope the international break does us good, helps the players bond with the new Head Coach, hone things on the training pitch and ultimately bring a good win over Rotherham, which we can then build on. However, until we see a definitive turnaround on the pitch, including a bit of desire from the players, coupled with something resembling a game plan, then people will continue to question the actions of the owner and I believe they have every right to do so.
Interesting comments from everybody, some of which I feel are more balanced than others, but football is certainly a game that stirs the emotions!
It will be fascinating to see what happens over the next week as the Bees take the opportunity to recharge their batteries, concentrate on upping their fitness levels and working on team shape and will hopefully come out reinvigorated and refreshed for the tough challenges that lie ahead.
Last night saw perhaps the first chink of light at the end of the tunnel with the Bees winning yet again against the Old Enemy Queens Park Rangers in the Under-21 Premier League Cup. What’s more Lewis Macleod started the match, played for an hour, set up the opening goal and then scored the winner with a delicately flicked header from a delicious cross from Sam Saunders, who was also making his comeback from injury.
It is early days, of course, but Lewis looked full of energy and was one of the best players on the field. What a boost it will be to see him recover full fitness and start to make the impact that was so eagerly anticipated when he arrived at the club nine long months ago.