The Facts Of Life – 6/1/16

The silly season has just begun and the predators are apparently already bashing our door down and lining up to pluck our best assets away from our clutches at Griffin Park.

Yes it is that time of the year again and our collective blood pressure is sure to rise on a daily basis until relief arrives with the closing of the January Transfer Window.

In the not too distant past we did not contemplate January with dread or a sense of foreboding simply because nobody really coveted any of our players enough to pay the panic premium that seems to be charged at a time when the heart often seems to rule the head and nonsensical fees are paid by clubs looking for that final player who will help them ensure promotion or avoid the drop.

Now things are different and we boast at least three star players in Alan Judge, James Tarkowski and Jota who, according to the rumour mill, are all on the verge of leaving the club.

It is still early in the month and nobody knows for sure if any or even all of them will move on but there was identical speculation this time last year about the likes of Andre Gray and Moses Odubajo and despite all the rumours, both players saw the season out at Griffin Park.

To put it bluntly, we are simply the victims of our own success. Through a combination in recent years of enlightened ownership, inspired management, for the most part superb player analysis and recruitment and a determination and commitment to play a unique brand of positive, attacking football the Bees have totally over performed and punched way over their weight.

Despite having one of the lowest average attendance and turnover figures in the Championship, Brentford have established themselves as one of the best footballing teams in the division and built up a squad that contains many valuable assets who are coveted far and wide.

We pay more than decent wages but our budget is dwarfed by the larger and more established clubs within the division, some of whom spend reckless and unjustifiable amounts and ignore the dictates of Financial Fair Play given their determination to join the Premier League gravy train and others are buttressed by a series of enormous parachute payments that give them a ridiculously unfair financial advantage.

We are not competing on an even playing field and for us to have reached the playoffs last season and to have a realistic chance of repeating that feat at the end of the current campaign is an incredible achievement which highlights just how well we are managed and run and the quality of the players we have managed to identity, attract, recruit and develop.

That last verb perfectly sums up where we are as a club at the moment. Brentford, in my opinion can best be described as a stepping stone club where young players of potential know they will be given a showcase where they will be able to hone, demonstrate and improve their skills in a positive and nurturing environment.

Being situated in London is a double edged sword with the attractions of a big capital city offset by the price of housing and cost of living but we are a more than attractive proposition for well advised young players who want to progress.

In other words Brentford puts them in the shop window and there are many clubs out there who are happy to let us do all the hard graft in terms of player recruitment and development and then swoop in to pluck them away from us and benefit from all the work we have done.

Unfortunately given the disparity in our size, income and wage bill we are still at a stage of our development when we are totally unable to prevent this asset stripping as it is pointless to keep a disaffected footballer, and all we can do is grin and bear it, ensure that we receive top dollar for our players, replace them more than adequately with more diamonds in the rough and wait for the time to come when we are in the catbird seat.

The situation will only change once we move to Lionel Road and start to benefit from the additional income streams that it will offer or actually get to the Premier League ourselves. Then we will be able to call the tune and hang onto our best players until we decide it is time to move them on.

Players are tapped up as a matter of course and have agents and other intermediaries in their ear all the time telling them of the riches on offer elsewhere and our current crop will be well aware how much the likes of Moses Odubajo and Andre Gray are currently earning. Just imagine the sort of tales than Alan Judge hears when on international duty with Eire?

There is talk that Sheffield Wednesday are currently offering to triple Alan Judge’s wages and as a family man entering the prime of his career he cannot fail to be attracted by such an offer than we cannot hope to match and nor would it be a sensible decision for us to do so given our financial constraints.

Players have to look after their own interests as the average professional playing career lasts for less than eight years and injury can strike at any moment.

I do not blame the like of Simon Moore, Harry Forrester, Adam Forshaw, Clayton Donaldson, Stuart Dallas, Odubajo and Gray deciding to move on for reasons that in several cases appear to have been more financially driven rather than a way of improving their career prospects. Moore, Forrester and Forshaw have faded into the background and their once promising careers seem to have withered on the vine.

Whilst they can all point to inflated bank balances they might also reflect upon the fact that they could conceivably have actually earned more by staying at Brentford and benefiting from the massive bonus payments that were made last season for reaching the playoffs!

I have written previously about the parallels between Brentford and Southampton and our  approach is pretty much identical.

  • We do not need to sell anyone and want to keep our best players
  • We will only sell them if they decide irrevocably that they wish to leave
  • They will only leave on our terms and not theirs – in other words the buying club will have to meet our asking price
  • All departing players will be replaced by someone who either already is, or is expected to become, an even better and more valuable player

If a player wants to go and we don’t want him to go, as appears to be the case currently with Tarkowski and Judge then the club’s response is simply to say that they are not for sale unless our valuation is met and if that is not the case then they will remain at Brentford FC.

It is rare that players have been allowed to leave on their terms or to run their contracts down. It happened with Clayton Donaldson and the same situation might be repeated with Harlee Dean but more often than not the club manages difficult situations exceptionally well.

Looking back at previous deals, I think it is more than fair to say that selling Moses and Andre was fantastic business for the club as we will earn up to thirteen million pounds for the pair of them plus a hefty sell-on percentage if and when they move on again. This is money that will be reinvested in new players.

We are, after all a business and must take advantage when such a deal is on the table, as long, of course, as we replace the players with new ones that could turn out to be even better and more valuable.

It would be hard to deny that Max Colin is as good as Moses and he is probably a better defender than his predecessor and whilst it is fair to say that there is no current individual player at the club who can be said to have replaced Andre Gray and what he brought to the team, the facts speak for themselves.

At this point last season Andre had scored nine Championship goals wheres the trio of Lasse Vibe, Marco Djuricin and Philipp Hofmann have contributed fifteen Championship goals between them.

Like all other Brentford fans, I do not want either Tarky or Judge to go, however if they decide that that is what they want to do and our valuation is reached, then I retain full confidence in the club replacing them more than adequately.

The time to worry is if players leave and nobody arrives of a suitable calibre and so far, despite some narrow squeaks in the last close season where some of the newcomers have yet to fully prove themselves for a variety of reasons, we are still well ahead of the game,

As for Jota, who knows what the situation is and whether he has become unsettled. The fact that the talk is of a swift loan move back to Spain can surely only be explained by a pressing personal or family problem that needs to be sorted, rather than footballing reasons.

I hope that this is just scuttlebutt and unfounded social media rumour as he is a footballer who is touched by genius and we have all been waiting for his return with a combination of expectation, anticipation and bated breath.

It would be cruel if the cup is dashed from our lips and he also decides for whatever reason that he needs to leave the club, however Jota, for all his undoubted quality, is also a replaceable asset even if it is hard for us to accept that fact.

Our current squad is immeasurably stronger than it was three years ago and I am certain that it will become even stronger in three years time. Players come and players go, that is the way of the world, and we just have to trust in the club to manage our affairs properly as has undoubtedly been the case up until now.

We are growing and evolving rapidly as it is. Four seasons ago we were a reasonable Third Division team, now we are looking realistically at getting to the Premier League.

That is a massive jump and we have to accept that we are competing in a different arena now and have to play by a different set of rules.

With the welcome loan extensions for Canos and Swift we have actually started the window well by ensuring that two excellent young players will remain at the club for the rest of the season.

There is a lot of water to flow under the bridge between now and the end of January and there are certain to be some highs and lows for us supporters to endure and even enjoy, however I would, suggest that by the beginning of February we will have a playing squad that is as strong, if not stronger than the one we currently possess.

Time will tell.


22 thoughts on “The Facts Of Life – 6/1/16

  1. Good assessment of the situation but when we move to LR with the increase in revenues it will still be the case that bigger clubs will come and get our players.We also take players from clubs who have put in the hard graft of developing young players Ie Woods Gray and Mosses to name a few.We won’t always be lucky enough to find better replacements but we have managed this well over the last few years.We are a very good advert for young players to come and improve and move on to bigger clubs.


  2. yes greville the world of football is very hard thats why a club like us must continue like we have been doing i think these last few years for how do we say now lol yes Academy players to come through .We need to have more young players who are formed in the now brentford way and a better pourcentage who make the first team.


  3. If we just go down this little BFC, can’t compete, FFP line, we may as well give up. Sometimes a club has to dig in and show intent – we get the general environment in which we operate, and that MB’s strategy has been a force for good – with a few bumps along the way.

    How many key assets did Bournemouth or Watford sell in the same Window last season? Both clubs not so different to us…our aspirations are well known (or have these now been shelved?) just putting it out there..


    • Watford let a whole raft of players that got them up go including Angella, Foristieri & Vydra (albeit for a ridiculous loan fee from Reading) and Bournemouth let Pitman and the young winger go to Ipswich. Look again at the players that Southampton & Swansea have sold and replaced and still remain competitive in the Prem. This is the only sensible way that we can attract young quality players. Rosler’s autobiography openly admitted that the way Brentford sold themselves to young players at the time (Forshaw, Forrester, Dean & Bidwell) was that we are a shop window to “bigger” clubs. As others have pointed out the way we can avoid this is to develop players from the Academy who can play the Brentford way and this is how we have been developing over the last 4 years. Hopefully players like Josh Bihui will start to come through – but we must accept it is harder to bring Academy players into the Championship than it is into League 1 & League 2

      Liked by 1 person

  4. OK so operating in the same environment as us Bournemouth did almost no business in Jan 2015 – they didn’t lose any star players. Not that it is so important to me but our stated aim is the Prem, and to do better than last term – so how does this work out if we can’t defend ourselves against predators?

    Everton resisted Chelsea & didn’t sell Stones – we have some say in this..


  5. I would love us to be in the same state as both clubs you mention but we aren’t.

    Everton dwarf us in income terms and Bournemouth have massive funding and have got clobbered by FFP.

    We also don’t know if they turned down any bids.


  6. Comparing Everton to BFC wasn’t my point, compare them to Chelsea and you’ll see where I was going.

    Be interested to know more on Bournemouth’s finances, I know there is Russian investment.

    Doesn’t matter if they turned bids down, they didn’t sell – we haven’t yet either….

    I’m talking about balance that’s all – not caving to all comers because we have an inferiority complex.


    • Without being too negative there is a case for arguing that if we were to achieve Premier League status before the move to LR became imminent it would cause more problems than it would solve.Would we have to share a ground? This could cause untold problems. Would admission prices have to go through the roof? Maybe while we are still at GP the Championship would be the preferred option ?


  7. Another well-written piece, Greville.

    I find it hard not to get attached to players, but that’s the way it is these days. Enjoy them while they’re here, don’t sulk when they move on, look forward to the replacements and keep supporting Brentford Football Club

    I don’t see that the club is ‘caving to all-comers’ – we sell on our terms. Which is a lot better than when we HAD TO sell DJ Campbell, or when David Webb wanted some cash, so sold Nicky Forster.
    I also don’t feel we have an inferiority complex – we are just being realistic and sensible.


  8. Good article, as usual Greville.

    I don’t like the current system and preferred the previous system. Clubs seem to panic themselves in paying crazy transfer fees. In order to stop going crazy reacting to rumours counter-rumours etc I have tried to take a what will be will be approach. My opinion isn’t going to influence the outcome.

    One thing mentioned in the article and subsequent comments is the move to LR. In short does anyone know when that is likely to happen, because I think we are behind schedule. I heard we are being held to ransom by someone who bought a key plot of land and is just sitting on it. I believe that the Council were helping us to obtain a compulsory purchase order.

    I don’t know the veracity of this, but can anyone enlighten me – we definately need the new stadium to help generate cash.


  9. Great piece as usual.

    I’m still laid back and just enjoying the good times.

    If you told me ten years ago we’d be describing million pound bids for our players as derisory I’d have laughed in your face. Everyone should relax and continue enjoying the ride.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s fine to be laid back and enjoy these good times, but some might say that’s exactly when everyone needs to be on their toes – if BFC can negotiate well through this period it’ll set us up for even better ahead. Fans need to step up a bit too, we are turning out in bigger numbers but the GP atmosphere isn’t as intense as last season. Everyone a bit cosy perhaps?


  11. I agree that this is a crucial time and it looks like the goalposts are changing every day. In a week or so we will either be laughing or crying after three crucial home games and we all need to step up to the plate.


  12. Being laid back is good for the stress, no harm in it but I do think the decisions made now will decide what happens this and next season. .

    Whatever our view at this unsettling time we all love BFC, when game time comes we all need to man up otherwise we help create a self fulfilling prophecy and lose a bunch of key games in Jan. The trapdoor into L1 is an easy one to fall into – we are not safe yet.


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